Who will be the Tennessee Titans’ breakout player of 2009?

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In the midst of the doldrums of the 2008 offseason, I wrote an article that speculated who would emerge as the Tennessee Titans’ breakout player of 2008. The candidates were the following: Vince Young (oops!), Michael Griffin, Cortland Finnegan, Justin McCareins (oops again!) and Eugene Amano.

Of the guys mentioned, Finnegan and Griffin were the Titans who lived up to the hype by earning their first trips to the Pro Bowl last year.

With the dog days of this year’s NFL offseason unmercifully upon us, let’s once again take a stab at predicting the breakout Titan for the upcoming season.

Vincent Fuller DB

At the start of the 2009 free agency period, the big news coming out of Nashville was the loss of Albert Haynesworth to the Redskins. On that same day, the Titans also re-signed versatile defensive back Vincent Fuller. Unfortunately, mostly due to Big Al’s decision to vault to financially greener pastures, bringing back Fuller was mostly regarded as an afterthought.

In 2009, I expect Fuller to be anything but an afterthought. With the departures of Chris Carr and Eric King, Fuller has a monopoly on the team’s nickelback spot. Also, if the aging Nick Harper struggles, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Fuller get some playing time opposite of one of last year’s breakout players, Cortland Finnegan.

With the potential of increased playing time looming on the horizon, Fuller is primed for a breakout season this year, IMO.

Jason Jones DT  

Jones is in a great position to breakout this year. Due to Haynesworth’s departure, the talented second-year lineman out of Eastern Michigan will attempt to replace Fat Albert’s presence in the starting lineup.

On paper, Jones has it all. He’s a hard worker who can get after the quarterback and with added bulk, he should be able to stop the run as well.  

Last August, Haynesworth himself thought that Jones had the potential to eventually become a great defensive tackle in this league. Here’s to hoping Jason will live up to Albert’s praise beginning with the 2009 season.

Nate Washington WR 

Perhaps the team’s biggest free agent acquisition this offseason, Washington will have the opportunity from Day One to emerge as a playmaker in the Titans’ offense. 

After lurking in the shadows of Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes in Pittsburgh, Washington is already penciled in as a starter for the Titans. His speed should be a welcome addition to the team’s offensive attack, which was desperately in need of a guy who can stretch the field.

Nate will have plenty of opportunities to make big plays this year and as a result of that, he should definitely be considered as one of the top breakout candidates for 2009.

Lavelle Hawkins WR

In a recent chat, Cortland Finnegan mentioned Hawkins as a possible breakout player in ’09. I agree with Finny’s opinion that “The Hawk” has the potential to step up this year.

After a disappointing rookie campaign, bigger and better things are expected from Hawkins this season. Hopefully, an offseason of maturation and becoming more of a student of the game will pay huge dividends for “The Hawk” in 2009.

William Hayes DE

Of the players on this list, I view Hayes as the biggest longshot. As a matter of fact, I thought really hard about replacing Hayes with fellow DE Jacob Ford, who, after a stellar 2008 campaign, could also breakout this season.

However, I chose Hayes over Ford for two reasons. First and foremost, I’m a fan of Hayes, as indicated by a recent article that I penned. Second, I view Hayes as a more complete defensive end than Ford, who at this point in his career, is more of a pass-rush specialist due to his less-than-ideal size.

Ridiculed by Mel Kiper Jr. on the day that he was drafted, I’m very hopeful that Hayes will continue his development into a pretty darn good DE in this league.

Your turn, Titan fans! Who are your picks for the Titans’ breakout player of 2009?   

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2 Responses to “Who will be the Tennessee Titans’ breakout player of 2009?”

  1. gabe Hinterman Says:

    I am thinking Nate W also! Can’t wait for CJ to have some more speed to compliment him. Also, I hope our new TE gets some opportunities to shine! Hopefully Kenny B will study hard and get some reps, I see a whole lot of upside to him! Go Titans!

  2. Drexel Perry Says:

    Thanks for commenting, Gabe.
    Going to be interesting to see how Nate does in ’09. He should be a source of some big plays this year.

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