NASHVILLE, Tenn. – If things ended right now, the Titans would be the fourth seed, AFC South champions hosting Baltimore for a highly anticipated playoff rematch.

It’s a pretty good spot to be in, even considering they are carrying a two-game losing streak.

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Courtesy Los Angeles Chargers

What’s uncommon about it is that the Titans are about to fill two key spots with newcomers, and not because of injuries.

A team with seven sacks in seven games and a totally anemic pass rush parted ways with the sleepy Vic Beasley and will look to youth in his place in the form of Derick Roberson, Tuzar Skipper and/or Wyatt Ray.

Roberson came into the season as the up-and-comer, and undrafted. From 2019 out of Sam Houston State who flashed late last year with three sacks in three games.

But he hurt a knee in camp didn’t practice the week before the opener and didn’t play at Denver, did practice the second week but also didn’t play against Jacksonville. He was sick Week Three and only managed a limited practice on Friday and didn’t play again.

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Then he was a scratch against Buffalo, played five defensive and 12 special teams snaps in the overtime win against Houston and hasn’t played again. He was on the injury report as sick again before the Cincinnati game but it didn’t affect his practice status.

The Titans’ other options are protected practice-squader Skipper, a second-year man from Toledo who’s been with the Steelers and the Giant and played six games last season for New York, and Ray, who’s been with the Texans and Jets but has not played in a game.

Any combination of those guys are guaranteed to play harder than Beasley, a sixth-year player Jon Robinson said was “coming along” and “working to figure all that out,” things the GM knows you simply can’t be saying about a veteran who was paid $9.5 million guaranteed.

“We'll see how they go throughout the week, Mike Vrabel said. “That's how it goes in this league. That could be somebody that's here, somebody that's not, there's a lot of different possibilities.

“But we have to continue to work these guys through the week and then see where we go on Sunday… Those guys have all been working extremely hard, and they all have to have, at that position, roles in the kicking game. That's something that's important as well.”

The Titans depth issues at corner are hopefully only about injuries.

The speed element has been missing all year with Adoree’ Jackson (knee) out. His three-week window to be activated from practice after a stint on IR is about to be up and everyone is optimistic. But he was shut down last Friday.

Ideally, he’s in uniform Sunday against the Bears. If not he could be activated and scratched.

Kristian Fulton will miss the second of at least three games on IR with an injury of his own.

Desmond King is in Zoom meetings now, but COVID-19 protocols will keep him out of team headquarters until at least Saturday. Still, in dire need of help the Titans dealt a sixth-rounder for him Monday and are likely to line him up at nickel against Chicago.

“He's been mostly a slot corner there with the Chargers, productive player at Iowa,” Robison said. “I think he had double-digit interceptions and PBU’s, and he's an aggressive guy. Good tackler, good blitzer, instinctive in coverage, good feel for route combos, for finding the spots and zones where he needed to fit and being productive there.apple icon 144x144 precomposed

“I'm glad it worked out for us. Excited to get to work with him once we can get through these protocols.”

The Titans were 3-4 through their first seven games in 2019 and 2018.

So they are way ahead of the pace that landed them at 9-7 the last two years, out of the playoffs two seasons ago, and in as a wild card that went to the AFC Championship game last year.

Their porous defense keyed by a historically bad third-down unit has to get better for them to slug it out with the Colts starting a week from Thursday and go get the division title and a home playoff game.

No-name outside linebackers and King need to be guys who can help fix it.

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