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Why Angelo Blackson is the Titans’ breakout player this season

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Blackson might not even start, but he’ll be a key cog in Tennessee’s defensive front. Retired NFL defensive end Stephen White takes a closer look.

Minnesota Vikings v Tennessee Titans Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Heading into his third season, Angelo Blackson hasn't exactly set the world on fire in the NFL just yet. It’s not so much that he’s played poorly. He hasn't. But he has only started one of the 29 games he’s been active for his first two seasons. It’s hard to rack up stats as an interior defensive linemen in a 3-4 if you aren't a starter.

Blackson isn't guaranteed to start this season either. Judging by the fact that he was still playing into the third quarter in the first preseason game this year, I would say there is a good chance he won't start. But I still think he will be productive.

The thing I like about Blackson is how active he is. He is a big guy at 6'4 and 318 pounds, but he doesn't use that as an excuse to loaf. He is physical, has good technique, and does not generally stay blocked if he gets blocked at all. That is my kinda defensive lineman right there.

I actually picked DaQuan Jones as the Titans' breakout player last season, but while he played decent and notched 1.5 sacks, he actually registered fewer tackles and didn't really "break out" in any meaningful sense of the word. I imagine since he has been starting the last two years, the Titans will just roll with Jones again this year, but I have to say I am not altogether sure that Blackson wouldn't be an upgrade at the position. Hell, Jones is headed into his fourth season and he and Blackson are tied in career sacks.

Even if Blackson doesn't start this season I would expect both his tackle numbers and sack numbers to go up. He continued to get better as I watched his film from last season. If the first preseason game is any indication, he has carried that progress over to this season. Yeah, grain of salt, but I saw Blackson doing the same things against Jets as I saw him doing last year in the regular season.

The more he plays this year, the more productive Angelo Blackson will be. I think at some point the Titans will have to concede that he belongs on the field more. That's why I chose him to be the Titans' breakout player of 2017.