As they attempted to improve their offensive line this offseason, the Tennessee Titans followed one theme: athleticism.

In free agency, they went out and signed guard Rodger Saffold, who helped his former team, the Los Angeles Rams, get to the Super Bowl last season. Saffold moves well in space, and he will pair with Taylor Lewan to create a very dynamic duo on the left side of the Titans’ offensive line.

“It’s going to be great,” Saffold said after being signed by the Titans. “When you work next to an athletic tackle and you’re an athletic guard, sometimes you just have those freak of nature plays where things can just happen and you open up huge lanes in the running game and also being able to pick up different twists and different blitzes of that nature.”

When the draft rolled around, the Titans still had the need for an offensive lineman. They settled on Charlotte’s Nate Davis, whose best trait is perhaps his ability to move well in and out of space.

“I was definitely blessed to have quick feet, that just kind of brings it all together,” Davis said shortly after being drafted. “I’m sure I can do anything the coach asks me to do because of my athleticism.”

The added athleticism on their offensive line will help the Titans in a number of ways this season. The team’s starting guards for the past three seasons, Quinton Spain and Josh Kline, fit more into the mold of “phone booth” players who struggle with movement.

As a result, the Titans were pretty limited with how they could utilize those two players. In many cases, Spain and Kline looked to be overmatched by opposing defensive linemen.

Now, the Titans should have the ability to put more on the shoulders of their interior offensive lineman, which will open up a lot of things for new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith in the run game.

“I think schematically we’re going to try to run the football,” Robinson said when asked why he emphasized athleticism on the offensive line this offseason. “We want to be able to try to get those guys to pull, get out in space, try to get those guys on smaller defenders and create some run lanes for Derrick [Henry], for Dion [Lewis] for [David Fluellen], for those guys.

“I think Saffold will be a good example certainly for Nate. He’s played a long time in this league; he’ll be a good guy for him to learn with—him, Ben [Jones], Taylor [Lewan], all those guys.”

Despite Davis’ talent, he won’t immediately be handed the keys to the Titans’ starting right guard job. He will have to compete with veterans Corey Levin and Kevin Pamphile.

“[Davis] will come in here and go in there with the line room and get to work,” Robinson said. “It’s all about competition, and we aren’t anointing anybody, so excited to get him in here and watch him go after it.”

Davis seems to be ready for the challenge. Asked if he is the right guy for the starting job, Davis said, “Yes sir. That’s my goal, to come in and earn respect from the guys in the locker room, and the older guys, and just do what I do, and hopefully earn that spot.”

Cover image: USA Today/Mark J. Rebilas & Chuck Cook

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