Campbell points toward preseason in pursuit of starting job

Tommie Campbell feels left out.

As the Tennessee Titans started organized team activities (OTAs) this week, the fourth-year cornerback was still on the mend from a shoulder injury that cut short his 2013 season.

Plus, he barely has been mentioned – if at all – in recent weeks when people have discussed possibilities to replace Alterraun Verner as a starter. For most, that discussion begins and ends with Coty Sensabaugh and Blidi Wreh-Wilson.

“I may be out of the loop right now – or some people may think that – but you never know,” Campbell said Tuesday. “Come August, that’s when positions are won or lost. It ain’t OTAs. It ain’t minicamp. It’s preseason and I am going to be at full strength and ready to go during the preseason.”

If that’s the case, he might actually have a chance.

If Campbell has shown one thing since he was drafted 251st overall in 2011, it is that he can make things happen in the preseason. His statistics in those games easily exceed those he has produced in 37 regular season contests.


Preseason: 12 tackles (team-high)
Regular season: 4 tackles

Preseason: 10 tackles, 1 interception, 1 pass defensed
Regular season: 5 tackles, 1 pass defensed

Preseason: 7 tackles, 2 interceptions, 5 passes defensed
Regular season: 0 tackles

Lest anyone forget, though, coaches gave him every opportunity to win a starting job during the preseason each of the last two years. After all, he is 6-foot-3, 198 pounds and one of the fastest players on the team so he looks like someone who should be a starting NFL cornerback.

Ultimately, coaches couldn’t count on him to be in the right place at the right time within the framework of the defense. Matt Hasselbeck once said his first rule of practice was not to throw the ball to anyone covered by Campbell if the defense was in man-to-man. Nobody plays man-to-man on every snap.

He lost both times to Verner, who is smaller and slower but who also became a Pro Bowler last fall and a free agent in the spring.

Campbell’s production in August – good as it was – simply was not enough. He’s hoping that changes this time.

“Obviously I plan on being the starter, one way or the other,” Campbell said. “So that’s the goal. That’s the goal for every player on this team. That’s my goal. It’s going to continue to be my goal.”