Titans become latest team to ink TE, sign Delanie Walker to extension

With Mike Mularkey doubling down on “exotic smashmouth” by drafting Derrick Henry to pair with DeMarco Murray (and adding Jack Conklin to help pave the way), the Titans look like a team that could be leaning on a tight end in the passing game.

It’s why the Walker extension, part of a larger trend of big tight end contracts this offseason, makes a lot of sense.

Don’t be surprised if Mariota leans on his top receiver from last year again in 2016.

For the first time in 10 years, ESPN’s Monday Night Football will have a new play-by-play man in the booth when the NFL season kicks off.

The network announced on Monday that veteran sportscaster Sean McDonough will be replacing Mike Tirico as the play-by-play guy on Monday nights.

Tirico, who had been in the Monday night booth since 2006, is leaving ESPN after spending 26 years with the company. The announcer is headed to NBC, where he’ll begin on July 1.

AFC North

I have a feeling this is the year the Steelers get back on top. The Martavis Bryantsuspension hurts, but if there is any position where the Steelers could withstand that blow — and find plenty of candidates to step up — it’s at receiver.

It would be hard to imagine them having the same run of bad injury luck as a year ago and I believe this defense is making baby steps. Big Ben will have a monster season.
If the Steelers stay healthy, watch out.

Meantime, the Bengals have lost ample talent and suffered a lot of brain drain to their coaching staff in recent years and that takes a toll. They are a little old in key spots on defense and I was never a big Andy Dalton guy even when he had his full array of weapons. The Bengals are accustomed to having starting hot and having others chase them, but the schedule is a beast this time around with four of the first six games on the road. Not only that, they to face the Jets, Steelers, Broncos,Cowboys and Patriots in that span.

The Ravens are on the rise but I believe they are still one more draft away from being back to their usual place in the pecking order. If the youngsters lead the way and this draft is a home run, they’ll push for the playoffs again, but having so many older players coming off significant injuries (Steve Smith, Terrell Suggs) is a concern. Is there a fourth team in this division? I forget sometimes.

Ansah, who hails from Ghana, believes the game is growing in his home continent, which would be an important factor for the NFL when deciding where to take the game next (because money).

“I think now that there’s a lot of Africans playing this game, I know the young guys coming up have been picking up on the game,” Ansah said. “When I went there I met a few guys that are eager to learn the game. It’s evolving in Africa.”

It’s worth noting that back in February, Marshawn Lynch went to Africa to ride some camels and help spread football. And now, just two months later, Africa is being mentioned as a possible NFL destination, which can only serve as proof that Marshawn Lynch can do anything he sets his mind to.

Now, if only he’d set his mind on an eventual NFL comeback.

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