Calico ready to replace McCareins

8/9/2004 - Tennessee Titans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Five observations on the Tennessee Titans, based on training camp practices and a practice with the Atlanta Falcons:

1. For now, second-year receiver Tyrone Calico is justifying the Titans gamble to trade Justin McCareins to the New York Jets for a second-round choice. Calico is a 6-4, 222-pound speedster who is smooth running his routes and maturing as a pass catcher. At camp, the coaches are having him work more on underneath routes to take advantage of his run-after-the-catch ability. McCareins was a third receiver, but trading him allowed Tennessee to get value for a potential free agent they couldn't re-sign along with opening up playing time for Calico.

2. Billy Volek looked great throwing long and short passes as Steve McNair's backup. Falcons front office personnel watched him and knew they made the right decision to pursue him as Michael Vick's backup this offseason. Unfortunately they didn't get him. Volek has a strong arm and he has a little fire in the huddle. Volek may not get a lot of playing time being behind the indestructible Steve McNair, but he could emerge as one of the league's most dangerous backup quarterbacks.

3. The Falcons offensive line, coached by the relentless Alex Gibbs, handled young Titans defensive ends Travis LaBoy and Antwan Odom during drill work at the duel practices Thursday. It was a good awakening for the defensive ends of the future for the Titans. Odom has the good inside moves. LaBoy is the edge rusher with the job of getting around offensive tackles. The Falcons blockers have been taught well how to hold back young pass-rushers. Lessons learned from these duel practices will show LaBoy and Odom what they need to work on before the start of the regular season.

4. The season-ending loss of Peter Sirmon hurts depth, but the Titans linebacking corps should be able to absorb the loss. Keith Bulluck has established himself as a Pro Bowl outside linebacker. Then they have the two Rockys, Rocky Calmus and Rocky Boiman, who will handle the other two jobs. Boiman was one of the team's better special teams players and did well in fill in assignments.

5. Forget about Ben Troupe being the immediate replacement for the retired Frank Wycheck at tight end. His head his swimming with all the offensive strategy thrown his way. At the moment, he's running third team behind Erron Kinney and Shad Meier. Troupe is a good looking prospect but it's going to take him awhile to make the adjustment into the NFL.

Senior writer John Clayton covers the NFL for ESPN.com.