After using a record 91 players in 2021 the Titans are starting 2022 already embracing their “next man up” mantra after losing outside linebacker Harold Landry the week before the start of the season.

Last Wednesday the Titans Pro Bowl linebacker went down with a torn ACL ending his season. Landry was coming off of a career high 12 sacks for the season and it is a devastating loss for a Titans defense with huge expectations in 2022.

“It’s unfortunate.” head coach Mike Vrabel said Monday, “It’s disappointing. I feel terrible for Harold (Landry III), the work that he’s put in, and his value to our football team, but we have to move on and get everybody ready to go in.”

“I don’t really want to gloss over that, I think Harold’s been a great player and he’s been with us for us for a long time” said Titans Pro Bowl safety Kevin Byard. He also made it clear though that the loss of Landry does not diminish his expectations for what this Titans defense can do.

So, how do they replace him? The natural thought is veteran Ola Adeniyi and 2nd year player Rashad Weaver would take the bulk of Landry’s snaps, however when the Titans released their initial depth chart Monday they had Denico Autry listed as the second starting outside linebacker opposite of Bud Dupree.

Autry has played with his hand in the dirt for his entire career at 6-6, 265 pounds and the Titans outside linebackers often line up as a “down” defensive lineman in their four man front. So, it is reasonable for Autry to take a least a percentage of those snaps and it also helps explain why the Titans kept seven defensive linemen.

Still the pressure is on to replace the 12 sacks Landry had last season and a lot of fingers are pointed at Dupree who the Titans snagged in free agency last year with a 5-year, $82.5-million deal. Dupree battled back from a torn ACL last season and did not hit his stride until the four of five games of the season finishing with only 3 of the Titans 43 sacks.

When Dupree was at his best though the Titans defense was at its very best. Vrabel said the injury Landry does not change what he expects from the former Steelers star, “There are high expectations for a lot of those guys, certainly Bud (Dupree) would be a part of that. I don’t think Bud is going to play any harder or try to be any more productive with an injury. I hope that they’re all aiming to do that.”

Can the Titans defense still get after the quarterback without Harold Landry? They get their first chance to answer it Sunday at 3:25 PM when they host the New York Giants and quarterback Daniel Jones in their season opener.