TRAINING CAMP PREVIEW: TIGHT ENDS
In camp (7): Chig Okonkwo, Trevon Wesco, Kevin Rader, Justin Rigg, Alize Mack, Josh Whyle, Thomas Odukoya.
Offseason developments: The Titans signed Wesco, formerly with the Jets and Bears, in free agency after signing Rigg to a futures contract earlier in the offseason. The Titans then drafted Whyle in the fifth round of the 2023 NFL Draft out of Cincinnati. Mack was signed by the Titans in May after playing in the XFL and after previously spending time with several other NFL teams. Odukoya, a Netherlands native who joined the Titans last year as part of the NFL’s International Pathway program, returned for his second offseason. The Titans also made some changes on the coaching staff here, as Tony Dews took over as tight ends coach after previously serving as running backs coach. Former Titans tight end Austin Hooper signed with the Raiders while tight end Geoff Swaim, a member of the team the past few seasons, was not re-signed and he remains a free agent.
In the spotlight: Okonkwo. After making some splash plays as a rookie, Okonkwo has a chance to emerge as a consistent playmaker in his second NFL season. The former Maryland standout made some plays with the ball in his hands in 2022, whetting the appetite of fans, who want to see more. Okonkwo has shown improvement in Year 2, as a blocker and a pass catcher. His challenge now is to find better ways to avoid and fight through contact while getting into open space on his routes, which could open up big play opportunities.
Battle to watch: 4th TE? Okonkwo, Wesco and Whyle figure to make the 53-man roster, but could a team that has historically valued the position keep a fourth tight end in the mix? Mack is a big, physical body who began making a case for himself in the offseason after playing in the XFL. Rader returns after playing in 14 games last year, while Rigg has been in NFL camps in the past. The Titans get an exemption with Odukoya, who has shown improvement in a number of areas over the last 12 months while spending the 2022 season on the team’s practice squad.
Keep an eye on: Whyle. The Titans picked Whyle because of his unique skill set, and the 6-foot-7, 248-pounder is an impressive looking athlete. During the offseason he made strides, but he’s still a work in progress as he adjusts to the NFL. The Titans are looking for as many playmakers as they can get in the passing game. Could Whyle emerge and give the team an extra weapon it can count on this fall? He’ll need to keep improving in training camp to give himself a chance to get on the field.