The Tennessee Titans have had issues with protecting new prize quarterback Marcus Mariota this season. After seeing the interior of their offensive line struggle (again) against Jacksonville last Thursday night, there are signs that undrafted rookie Quinton Spain out of West Virginia could find himself in the starting lineup this week.
If you were to go out and buy that shiny sports car you’ve had your eyes on, would you then go and purchase cut-rate insurance to protect it? Sure, you might save a few bucks, but is that a worthwhile way of protecting your investment? The answer to that is, hopefully, no.
The Titans knew when they drafted the star QB out of Oregon that their offensive line was an issue. They didn’t wind up with the second pick in this past draft for nothing. However, building the five spots that protect a quarterback can take time. A weak point going into this season has remained so. Their struggles protecting Mariota is one reason former head coach Ken Whisenhunt lost his job. Building an effective offensive line on the fly is one way Mike Mularkey hopes Titans’ leadership will take away the “interim” status on his title.
Quinton Spain knew the Titans had a need for a player like him when he signed with them.
Spain is a driven man. During his senior season at WVU, his name on Twitter was “Q is on a mission.” That mission? To get drafted and become a long-time starter in the NFL. When he didn’t hear his name called during the 2015 NFL Draft, he changed his Twitter name to “Mr. Undrafted.”
He’s out to prove the doubters wrong. It’s one of the things that drives him.
Becoming an undrafted free-agent was beneficial for Spain in one way. It allowed him to choose the best situation from the offers he received. Tennessee seemed like a good fit. Now, through eleven weeks of the NFL season, Spain could find himself starting at LG this week.
During Monday’s practice, he worked with the starters at that position. Mularkey said the team is looking their best options in the lineup to go against Oakland on Sunday. He said he likes Spain’s size and intelligence. “He works really hard.”
Spain has been inactive for all but two games this season. In a game against Buffalo, he saw his first playing time as a pro, getting in on three snaps.
“It’s the NFL; you get one shot, so I’ve got to take advantage of it,” Spain said. “When I first came in the meeting room and they told me, my heart was beating fast. I felt like I just had to get that over with.”
The Titans won’t practice again until Wednesday where Spain will get more reps with the first team offense. That’ll give him another chance to show he has what it takes.
“They gave me an opportunity, so I have to take advantage of it,’’ Spain said. “Whatever happens, happens.”
If that happens and he comes out as a starter on Sunday, then Q will be close to saying, “Mission accomplished.”