Titans' center battle includes Rob Turner

July, 26, 2013
7/26/13
9:52
AM ET
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Fernando Velasco is the incumbent and Brian Schwenke was the center in the draft the Tennessee Titans thought was the best in the class.

But the pivot who’s in place on opening day for a revamped offensive line won’t necessarily be one of the two.

[+] EnlargeRob Turner
Mark Humphrey/AP PhotoThe Titans hope to rely on Rob Turner's veteran expertise to boost the offensive line.
Veteran Rob Turner is also going to get plenty of work and the Titans fully consider him in the mix. Thursday in the first practice of camp, with first-round draft pick Chance Warmack missing because he doesn’t have a deal yet, Turner and Velasco both saw significant time at center and right guard.

“It really shows the maturity of a guy when you’ve got guys who come in competing for the same position and there is no malice towards anybody,” Turner said. “We’re all trying to help each other and help each other improve. We know at the end of the day, sometimes the decisions are made because of money, sometimes they are made because of age or injuries, potential or things like that. But the biggest thing I have to say is we have a good group of guys who really care about each other, that want to help each other improve."

Turner played five seasons for the Jets before joining the Rams in 2012.

Mike Munchak poured out a pretty significant compliment for Turner when I asked about the sixth-year man’s potential.

“We like his attitude, his toughness, he reminds me of Kevin Mawae, he’s a bigger version, he’s a heavier guy,” Munchak said. “When I compare him to Kevin, it’s more his approach to the game, very smart, a takes-control kind of guy who knows all the tricks of the trade. He’s an interesting guy, I’m happy he’s here. He’ll be great with Jake (Locker) in the huddle. He has a lot of intangibles that way.”

The Titans have a lot of competitions to sort through. Munchak sounded as if center could be the first one settled. The Titans need to look at all the options and see how they mesh with the rest of the line and with Locker.

“I don’t think anybody goes anywhere not expecting to play,” Turner said after that practice, adding Chris Spencer to the list of guys fighting for the job. “I think we’re going to play these cards out and see where they play at the end of the day.”

A versatile interior guy, Turner said he thinks he’s the best at where he gets to practice the most.

A team that had to call on too much depth a year ago should be far better off in that area after adding Warmack and Andy Levitre to start at the guard spots, as well as Schwenke, Turner, Spencer, and tackle Barry Richardson.

The best guy will play. It makes sense for the Titans to hope Schwenke is quickly the best guy. A fourth-round pick out of Cal, he’s strong enough to anchor but very quick at getting to the second level. Getting him working next to Warmack as soon as possible would seem to be an ideal scenario.

Wherever Turner winds up, he has impressed the team since he signed.

The Titans' offensive line troubles grew when they didn’t re-sign Mawae for the 2010 season. He had slowed, and not bringing him back wasn’t a terrible move. It was Tennessee's failure to sufficiently replace him, relying predominantly on Eugene Amano who didn’t grow into the player they expected, that set the line back.

Amano missed last year with an injury and was cut this offseason since he was finally healthy.

Tennessee can go three different directions at center now.

With Schwenke, Velasco or Turner in the middle of the line between Levitre, a major free-agent addition, and Warmack, the 10th overall pick, things stand to be significantly better.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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