When the Tennessee Titans parted ways with former right tackle Dennis Kelly, the team presumably had a succession plan in place.
The Titans signed former Cleveland Browns tackle Kendall Lamm during free agency, and they return David Quessenberry and Ty Sambrailo, who started a handful of games at left tackle in 2020 after Taylor Lewan tore his ACL.
If you ask head coach Mike Vrabel, the three-man competition could be just what the Titans need and falls right in line with the fourth-year coach’s philosophy of every position is earned not given.
“I’d say very few players…I don’t think we’re going to have too many guys just step in,” Vrabel said. “We like to have guys earn positions and try to make the competition there. Excited to bring Ty back, excited to add Kendall, as guys that have played multiple positions.
“(I) like their versatility in how they play those positions, can play either tackle, and certainly we’ve seen Ty play more than just the tackle position in the NFL. I would say two guys that can play both sides as well as probably Ty kick inside and play a guard spot.”
The 29-year-old Sambrailo played in 10 games last year, including five starts. He played a career-high 414 snaps on offense, allowing four sacks and taking just two penalties while earning a 65.9 overall grade from Pro Football Focus.
Sambrailo was thrown into the fire, so to speak, and held his own as six of the players he faced in his first four starts finished ranked in the top 25 in the NFL in sacks — T.J. Watt (15), Stephon Tuitt (11.5), DeForest Buckner (9.5), Khalil Mack (nine), Justin Houston (eight) and Bud Dupree (eight).
"I just control what I can control," Sambrailo said recently. "I am constantly preparing myself to be ready to go start — if and when needed — and I am always working toward that. At the same time, there are things outside my control sometimes. So it is what it is...We are going to have 11 guys out there when it’s time to play ball, and that’s really all I can tell you.”
Lamm, on the other hand, played in 15 games last year with Cleveland, allowing one sack and taking two penalties while playing 116 snaps. Pro Football Focus gave him a 76.8 overall grade in 2020 — grading him higher in run blocking than pass protection.
The 28-year-old signed a two-year, $8.5 million deal, and he has the advantage in starting experience on his side. In 2018 with the Houston Texans, Lamm started 13 games, allowing five sacks and posting a 64.4 grade from PFF.
"I just bring what I bring to the table and let the chips fall where they may,” Lamm said after signing with the Titans. “I know the roles will be defined when the time comes…However that plays out, it's going to play out.”
The 30-year-old Quessenberry played in 12 games and started six last year, playing 438 snaps and taking just one penalty. Pro Football Focus gave him a grade of 61.2 as he started the final six games of the season at left tackle.
A sixth-round draft pick in 2013 by the Houston Texans, Quessenberry showed he belonged in the NFL in 2020 and could be a dark horse to win the job on the right side.
Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_