With Barrett Ruud now a Tennessee Titan, a position battle that will be closely watched throughout training camp will be to see who lines up at the middle linebacker spot on September 11 against the Detroit Lions. Coach Raheem Morris spoke about the fight, and who is in the running to replace Ruud, Tampa Bay's second-round pick in 2005 and the team's starter since 2007.
“Immediately, we would have to say Tyrone McKenzie, he has been getting the most reps at it,” Morris said. “You would have to say the kid we drafted [Mason] Foster [has a chance].”
But for the third straight press conference Morris has mentioned a newcomer, undrafted free agent Derrell Smith from Syracuse.
“But Derrell Smith is another guy that is intriguing to me,” Morris stated Monday. “They are getting about equal reps – talking about Smith and Foster. Tyrone is getting a little more [with first team defense] but eventually we will start to focus more [on] Foster so we can even it out and see what’s really going to happen. “
The 6-foot-2, 232-pound Smith was a team captain for the Orangemen and also was a second team All-Big East selection during his senior season but went undrafted in April.
With more than four weeks still until the season opener Morris reminded the media it is still too early to make much of an assessment.
“Right now we have only been in shorts, only been in helmets,” Morris said. “The Mike linebacker is about tackling, about making the calls, it's about having control of the defense. We haven’t finished all of our installments as far as situational football. So it’s really hard to determine who really has the clear-cut lead right now. I just love the competition.”
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