Our sources in Nashville wondered last season why talented fourth-year C-OG Fernando Velasco didn’t get a shot when C Eugene Amano and OG Leroy Harris were falling short.
Following a season-ending triceps injury to Amano in training camp, we hear Velasco’s opportunity has arrived.
After his struggles in 2011, Amano had been under the microscope this offseason, with the Titans scouring the free-agent market for potential upgrades and Velasco and C Kevin Matthews expected to compete with Amano during camp.
Our sources indicate Amano was holding down the job in camp’s early stages, but head coach Mike Munchak and company were expected to open the battle up. With Amano out of the picture, the job is now Velasco’s to lose, we hear.
And while one source was careful to point out that you never want to see a player get injured, the Titans could be better off with Velasco, who, despite lacking the experience of Amano, could turn out to be the better player.
As for Matthews, the son of offensive line coach and Hall of Fame OG Bruce Matthews, he was going to have to be a clear step above the competition to earn the starting job outright. That is the only safe way to avoid whispers of favoritism, and our sources had doubts all along — which since have been confirmed — that he would be the best option.
Velasco is a stronger, more experienced player than Matthews at this stage, and Matthews, who we hear could struggle to stay healthy, already had missed time during camp with concussion-like symptoms.
One of the theories on why Velasco wasn’t given a shot sooner was that his versatility — he can play center and both guard positions — meant he was more valuable as a backup. However, a source indicated that Velasco’s likely move to the starting lineup shouldn’t cause depth concerns along the O-line. Tennessee is in better shape at tackle, where the dependable Mike Otto backs up one of the better starting tandems in the league in Michael Roos and David Stewart, but the club has stockpiled so many linemen in recent years that it should be in decent shape. Ryan Durand, who spent last season on the practice squad, is one backup the Titans are high on.