The Tennessee Titans head into the 2012-13 NFL season with some questions on their offensive line. One of those concerns is Fernando Velasco. After Eugene Amano was placed on injured reserve (IR) during training camp, Velasco was penciled-in as the starting center. Since 2010, the 27-year-old offensive lineman has started three games. None of those were in 2011.
Could the Titans use some more experience? The New England Patriots released former Pro Bowl center Dan Koppen. Why would the Titans consider him? Should they be confident with Kevin Matthews and Velasco?
Who Is Dan Koppen?
The Patriots drafted Koppen in the fifth round of the 2003 NFL Draft. The nine-year veteran has spent his entire career with them. Koppen has started 120 games. He was a Pro Bowler in 2007.
Koppen will turn 33-years-old on September 12. From 2006 through 2010, Koppen had missed one start. He wasn't as durable in 2011. Koppen was placed on IR after he fractured his ankle in the regular-season opener.
Titans' Offensive Line
The Titans kept four reserve offensive linemen. Those players were Mike Otto, Byron Stingily, Troy Kropog and Matthews. They head into their Week 1 game with a starting offensive line that includes Leroy Harris at right guard and Velasco at center.
The Titans have one of the NFL's best pass-blocking offensive lines. Since 2009, they've only allowed 66 sacks. However, the problem is that the interior offensive linemen have been inconsistent in their run-blocking. They played a role in Chris Johnson's struggles in 2011.
Koppen has been considered as a solid run-blocker throughout his career.
Even when Amano was healthy, the Titans were reportedly interested in Koppen. Koppen was one of four centers who the Titans had interviewed this past offseason. The other players included Scott Wells, Chris Myers and Jeff Saturday. They all signed with other teams.
New England Patriots' Pass Protection Woes
Throughout the preseason, the Patriots haven't excelled in pass protection. They're apparently more confident with Dan Connolly as their starting center. The Patriots are usually very protective with Tom Brady. He doesn't have the mobility to be anything more than a pocket quarterback.
The Titans are fine with Fernando Velasco and Kevin Matthews. The Patriots wouldn't have released Koppen if they thought he could still play. They've watched him for nine seasons. I'm giving the benefit of the doubt to an organization who has won five AFC championships and three Super Bowls since 2001.
I'm mostly concerned with Leroy Harris. Harris still hasn't looked comfortable after making the transition from left guard to right guard. He's a vulnerability in the interior running game.
Joshua Huffman graduated from Middle Tennessee State University as a marketing major in 2009. He's been a Middle Tennessee resident from 1986-88 and 2001-present. He lived in the Upper Peninsula and Northern Wisconsin from 1988-01 and for approximately eight months in 2009-10 as he completed a 20-game volunteer position with the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers. His favorite sports organizations include the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Cubs, Nashville Predators and Tennessee Titans. He can be found on Twitter HERE.
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