NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans are about to start learning just how well their biggest offseason project went.
They revamped the entire offensive line and open their NFL season Sunday in New Orleans with a unit having only one returning starter in Aaron Brewer with right tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere suspended for the first six games.
Brewer moved from left guard to center, and the undrafted lineman from Texas State now going into his fourth NFL season doesn't care what anyone else thinks of this group.
"I’m just trying to be the best offensive line in the league, and that’s the only thing I’m focused on,” Brewer said.
New general manager Ran Carthon signed 2019 first-round pick Andre Dillard to play left tackle despite only nine career starts. He also signed right guard Daniel Brunskill from San Francisco in free agency and drafted Northwestern's Peter Skoronski at No. 11 overall as the new left guard.
With Petit-Frere's suspension, the Titans added veteran Chris Hubbard to play right tackle. Dillon Radunz, a second-round pick out of North Dakota State in 2021, continues recovering from the torn ACL that ended last season.
Brewer has been the anchor of this new group, so much that teammates voted him as an offensive captain along with quarterback Ryan Tannehill and three-time Pro Bowl running back Derrick Henry — the two men this line now must protect.
Coach Mike Vrabel credited Brewer with learning from Jones while leading in his own way.
“I’ve seen an energized and professionalism to him,” Vrabel said Wednesday. “Coming in early, extra meetings, his communication with the quarterback and the rest of the line has been where we wanted it to be.”
The Titans need that to bounce back from l ast season ' s 7-10 record, which featured a seven-game skid to end the season. Tannehill wound up on injured reserve after his second injury to his right ankle. He was sacked 33 times in 12 games with Tennessee giving up 49 total for the season.
Only four NFL teams allowed more sacks last season. Tennessee also ranked 30th in passing, averaging a measly 171.4 yards per game.
This new line faces a Saints defense that was among the NFL's best at getting to the quarterback in 2022. Only four NFL teams had more than New Orleans' 48 sacks, and the Saints ranked second defending the pass and fifth in total yards allowed.
Saints defensive tackle Khalen Saunders knows Brewer was part of a line that practiced against the NFL's top rushing defense last season in Tennessee. The Titans also feature a new offensive line coach in Jason Houghtaling. An advantage for the Saints might be how little time the Titans’ new line got during preseason games.
“We’re just banking on a little bit of dysfunction, a little bit of mis-cohesion in the new line,” Saunders said.
The future for both the veteran quarterback and his new offensive line is now.
“You got to take advantage of opportunities when they come, and we know that this is a big opportunity and a big opportunity for myself,” Tannehill said.
NOTES: WR Treylon Burks, who hurt his left knee practicing against Minnesota, practiced fully Wednesday. OLB Arden Key (calf) and reserve QB Will Levis (left quad) also practiced fully. Pro Bowl OLB Harold Landry, who missed last season with a torn ACL, was limited by an abdominal injury. Reserve CB Tre Avery (hamstring) was limited.
AP Sports Writer Brett Martel contributed to this report.
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Teresa M. Walker, The Associated Press