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Injury Issues May Force the Tennessee Titans to Become a More Vertical Team

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY| Since Jake Locker was put on injured reserve after the Titans lost to the winless Jaguars, everything has gone downhill for the franchise. Even when Ryan Fitzpatrick finally started to look like the quality backup quarterback the Titans thought they were paying for, he turned into the turnover prone quarterback that was kicked out of Buffalo.

While Ryan Fitzpatrick can't seem to get out of his own way, the Titans offense was adapting to the change in quarterback by running more "empty sets". This essentially eliminates the need for a fullback or an additional tight end and relies on a more spread offense to move the ball. This was clear against the Indianapolis Colts where they only used fullback Collin Mooney on three of the Titans 76 offensive plays.

Since that game, the Titans have been forced to place the starting fullback on injured reserve and bring in former Titan, Quinn Johnson. The former starting fullback was a good run-blocker, but was more useful as a safety valve when the quarterback was looking to get a few yards and head back to the huddle. This points to the Titans leaning on the passing game even harder than they have the past few weeks.

Another injury that occurred in Indianapolis was tight end Delanie Walker being sidelined with a concussion. This was on top of an injury to Craig Stevens, the "other" tight end that was primarily a run blocker. Much like the fullback situation, when looking to free agency to replace this injury the Titans found a target that was more beneficial in the passing game than the running game.

10-year vet, Visanthe Shiancoe, has 27 receiving touchdowns in his career despite being primarily a second tight end. The Titans will likely look to him on passing downs to play the role that Walker played until he can return. As for the spot that Stevens occupied, converted defensive end, Taylor Thompson, is the most capable player on the roster to fill that spot.

There is some good news for the Titans on the injury front, and it comes in the form of wide receiver Damian Williams. The Titans haven't needed Williams that much thanks to the emergence of Kendall Wright, Delanie Walker and Justin Hunter. With injuries to some of the other players, being a little deeper at wide receiver should let the Titans breathe easier. Williams has missed five games this year, but is still the sixth leading receiver in terms of yards and receptions. On third down the Titans may feel more comfortable with Williams out on the field in the slot, as opposed to Visanthe Shiancoe.

Will Lomas is a lead blogger for and a staff writer for SBNation's Tennessee Titans website Music City Miracles. Will is also the sports editor for the Tennessee Journalist, the University of Tennessee's online news source.

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