With a resurgent Chris Johnson, an influx of talent on offense and youth being served on defense, the Tennessee Titans are primed to take another step forward in the quest to once again become a playoff team.
Titans training camp is underway at Baptist Sports Park. The team is off to a strong start, despite the distraction of Kenny Britt's off-field transgressions, with a very close race at quarterback still in progress.
We're still yet to see the Titans in live action against another NFL opponent, but players are getting noticed for their play in the constant struggle to avoid being cut.
As the Titans work their way through training camp and preseason, we'll be working to keep you posted on any team transactions, depth chart moves and other news.
WR LaQuinton Evans
NFL teams are required to cut each of their respective rosters down to 75 players by today. Here's who the Tennessee Titans decided to bid adieu to:
- RB Herb Donaldson
- C William Vlachos
- QB Nick Stephens
- P/K Will Batson
- TE Joey Haynos
- G George Bias
- S Christian Scott
- OT Jonathan Palmer
- WR Chase Deadder
- WR LaQuinton Evans
- WR Marcus Harris
The team also place WR Marc Mariani on injured reserve and moved rookie safety Markelle Martin from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list to the Reserve/PUP list.
QB Nick Stephens never stood much of a chance of making the final roster with Jake Locker and Matt Hasselbeck embroiled in a QB battle, only third-stringer Rusty Smith's roster spot was hardly at risk.
Smith has too great a grasp of the playbook and is still well-liked by the coaching staff as a developmental prospect.
Any runningbacks brought in faced an uphill battle to make the Titans' roster with Chris Johnson, Javon Stringer and Jamie Harper all being near-locks to make the roster.
Darius Reynaud has played out of his mind to be a possible fourth running back. With all that, Donaldson never seemed to make any kind of impact and only stands to make a team's practice squad.
All three receivers that were released were brought in for the sole purpose of providing extra bodies for camp and they did their job well. None stand a chance of making a team's final 53-man roster.
Throw P/K Will Batson into the same boat as the receivers. He was there to keep Rob Bironas' and Brett Kern's legs well-rested leading up to the beginning of the regular season, often handling second-half duties in preseason action.
Undrafted rookie C William Vlachos had every opportunity to make the Titans' final roster, with Eugene Amano going down to injury and Kevin Matthews being hurt for much of the offseason.
However, he failed to cease his opportunity and didn't even end up making the roster as a depth talent.
He has a solid chance to be kept on the team's practice squad for coaches Mike Munchak and Bruce Matthews to continue tinkering with.
Christian Scott had a slight chance to make the roster as the Titans lacked any experienced depth in its secondary, but he was outperformed on special teams and was average as a safety.
Jordan Palmer has bounced all over the league in his career and only managed to last 10 days with the Titans. With the may minor injuries along the O-line, Palmer was brought in to help bridge the gap.
After letting go of TE Daniel Graham, the Titans needed a bit more depth at the position to help get through training camp and preseason. Joey Haynos performed admirably in the role as blocking tight end.
Finally, G George Bias was merely a developmental prospect that is still too raw to make any team's final roster. Like Vlachos, there's a good chance he will be invited to join the practice squad.
8/26/2012: The Tennessee Titans cut RB Herb Donaldson, C William Vlachos, QB Nick Stephens, P/K Will Batson, TE Joey Haynos, G George Bias, S Christian Scott, OT Jonathan Palmer, WR Chase Deadder, WR LaQuinton Evans and WR Marcus Harris to get down to the 75-man roster limit.
8/22/2012: The Tennessee Titans have released DT Shaun Smith. The move saves them about $1.25 million and still leaves the team with plenty of defensive tackle depth.
8/19/2012: The Tennessee Titans placed LB Gerald McRath on injured reserve after suffering a torn patellar tendon. McRath was likely a top backup for every LB position.
8/15/2012: The Tennessee Titans signed G Michael Jasper, formerly of the Buffalo Bills. The coaching staff is infatuated with his ability to move well despite weighing 375 pounds.
8/15/2012: The Tennessee Titans signed OT Jonathan Palmer. Palmer has been a practice squad journeyman for the entirety of his career. He helps fill the void left by a recent minor injury to Michel Otto.
8/8/2012: The Tennessee Titans placed C Eugene Amano on injured reserve. Amano suffered a torn right triceps injury on Aug. 4, forcing him to miss the upcoming season and relinquish his starting role.
8/4/2012: The Tennessee Titans signed C Chris Harris, who was out of the league last season. The signing comes after starter Eugene Amano suffered a torn triceps injury, meaning he will be unable to play in the upcoming season.
8/3/2012: The Tennessee Titans signed LB Keith Bulluck to a one-day contract so that he may retire a Titan. Bulluck was the team's defensive leader for several years in his time with the team (2000-2009).
8/1/2012: The Tennessee Titans signed WR Marcus Harris, formerly of the Detroit Lions. The Titans have had a few issues at receiver with Kenny Britt being hurt, Lavelle Hawkins' ankle injury and the tragic death of O.J. Murdock.
7/31/2012: The Tennessee Titans have a signed first-round WR Kendall Wright to a four- year $8.2 million contract. Wright will be counted on early with Kenny Britt's looming suspension.
7/27/2012: Recent C/G acquisition Jon Cooper decided to call it career, choosing to accept a coaching position at his alma mater Oklahoma.
7/25/2012: The Tennessee Titans cut G Chandler Burden. The undrafted rookie was signed by the team on April 30.
7/21/2012: Tennessee Titans S Anthony Smith has announced his retirement at the age of 28. After five seasons in the league, Smith signed with the Titans in 2011 as veteran depth.
*Be sure to check back for more Tennessee Titans transactions leading up to the regular season.
Last updated: 8/27/2012
QB (3): Jake Locker, Matt Hasselbeck, Rusty Smith
RB (4): Chris Johnson, Javon Ringer, Jamie Harper, Darius Reynaud
FB (2): Collin Mooney, Quinn Johnson
WR1 (6): Damian Williams, Kendall Wright, Michael Preston, Devin Aguilar, D.J. Woods, Kenny Britt (PUP)
WR2 (4): Nate Washington, Lavelle Hawkins, James Kirkendoll, Marc Mariani (IR)
TE (6): Jared Cook, Craig Stevens, Taylor Thompson, Cameron Graham, Brandon Barden, Beau Brinkley
LT (2): Michael Roos, Byron Stingily
LG (3): Steve Hutchinson, Ryan Durand, Michael Jasper
C (4): Fernando Velasco, Kevin Matthews, Chris Harris, Eugene Amano (IR)
RG (2): Leroy Harris, Kyle DeVan
RT (3): David Stewart, Michael Otto, Troy Kropog
LE (5): Derrick Morgan, Pannel Egboh, Keyunta Dawson, Malcolm Sheppard, Dave Ball
LDT (3): Sen'Derrick Marks, Mike Martin, DaJohn Harris
RDT (4): Jurrell Casey, Karl Klug, Zach Clayton, Lamar Divens
RE (3): Kamerion Wimbley, Leger Douzable, Scott Solomon
SLB (3): Akeem Ayers, Patrick Bailey, Alex Watkins
MLB (4): Colin McCarthy, Zac Diles, Tim Shaw, Kevin Malast
WLB (3): Will Witherspoon, Zach Brown, Gerald McRath (IR)
CB (7): Jason McCourty, Alterraun Verner, Tommie Campbell, Ryan Mouton, Chris Hawkins, Coty Sensabaugh, Terrence Wheatley
SS (3): Jordan Babineaux, Al Afalava, Aaron Francisco
FS (4): Michael Griffin, Robert Johnson, Markelle Martin (PUP/Reserve), Tracy Wilson
K (1): Rob Bironas
P (1): Brett Kern
Total Roster Size: 80 players total (two on PUP List, three on injured reserve)
Active Roster: 75 Players
Terrence Wheatley's 2011 headshot
The "Last 5 In" is a break down of the five players at the very edge of the Tennessee Titans' roster bubble:
S Christian Scott's chances of making the Titans roster got a bit slimmer with the signing of Aaron Francisco. The team is looking for more experienced depth in its secondary, and he does not have it.
CB Terrence Wheatley appears to be in a no-win situation. The Titans' top four corners appear to be set with only a question of pecking order left unanswered. Chris Hawkins appears entrenched as the team's No. 5 option, and Coty Sensabaugh will likely be given a roster nod due to his elite athleticism.
QB Nick Stephens will really have to show himself to be the better option over third-stringer Rusty Smith. Smith has been touted for his knowledge of the offense, giving him an advantage over the rookie.
WR D.J. Woods doesn't stand much of a chance of making it through roster cutdowns. The Titans have 12 receivers currently signed and will want to get a good look at a receiver to keep on hand should Kenny Britt be suspended. Woods doesn't appear to be a candidate.
P Will Batson is only on the Titans roster to help preserve the legs of Rob Bironas and Brett Kern. He will likely make it through the first series of cutdowns, but his chances of making the final roster are nil.
QBs on roster: Matt Hasselbeck, Jake Locker, Rusty Smith
Projected starter: Jake Locker
Offseason additions: Nick Stephens
Roster cuts: Nick Stephens
Projected final roster: Matt Hasselbeck, Jake Locker, Rusty Smith
The Titans have a situation at quarterback that many teams might be envious of with Hasselbeck and Locker battling for the starting spot.
Hasselbeck started off the 2011 season on fire, but as the season went along, his play fizzled out to the lower tier of quarterbacks.
Per Gregg Rosenthal of nfl.com, on Tuesday, NFL Network's Mike Lombardi stated on Inside Training Camp Live that he's "learned" Jake Locker is the favorite to open the season as the team's starting quarterback.
Locker offers more of the arm strength needed to take full advantage of offensive coordinator Chris Palmer's vertical passing offense, but his accuracy remains an area of concern.
Rusty Smith is expected to win the third-string role, barring a need for the roster spot at another position.
Neither Locker or Hasselbeck had been impressive to date, making the decision easy as the tie should go to the future quarterback of the team.
RBs on roster: Chris Johnson, Javon Ringer, Jamie Harper, Darius Reynaud, Quinn Johnson, Collin Mooney
Projected starter: Chris Johnson
Offseason additions: Darius Reynaud
Roster cuts: Herb Donaldson
Projected final roster: Chris Johnson, Javon Ringer, Jamie Harper, Darius Reynaud
Chris Johnson is looking primed for a return to form with all the news that's been coming out about him bulking up, being in better shape and running hard.
With all the explosive receiving options the team has for the upcoming season, having Johnson perform anywhere near his 2009 form means the Titans offense could be elite.
Behind him is a rather underwhelming group that provide solid depth, but cannot be counted for long stretches of the season.
Harper, in particular, performed well during the 2011 preseason, but was nonexistent when the real games started.
I expect to see some impressive plays from Reynaud that will excite fans, but ultimately he will not make the final roster.
Collin Mooney and Quinn Johnson will battle it out for the team's starting fullback role. I expect the younger Mooney to win based on youth and Johnson's inability to beat out Ahmard Hall in 2011.
WRs on roster: Kenny Britt, Nate Washington, Kendall Wright, Damian Williams, Lavelle Hawkins, Marc Mariani, Michael Preston, James Kirkendoll, Devin Aguilar, D.J. Woods
Projected starters: Kenny Britt (Kendall Wright if Britt is suspended) and Nate Washington
Offseason additions: Kendall Wright, Devin Aguilar, Chase Deadder, LaQuinton Evans, D.J. Woods, Marcus Harris
Roster cuts: O.J. Murdock (deceased), Chase Deadder, LaQuinton Evans, Marcus Harris
Projected final roster: Kenny Britt, Nate Washington, Kendall Wright, Damian Williams, Lavelle Hawkins
When Kenny Britt is healthy and staying out of trouble off the field, he flashes the talent to be a premiere receiver in the NFL and gives the Titans one of the league's best receiving corps.
With Britt expected to be suspended and with his clearly being an injury-prone player, the Titans still have a lot of talent at the position in Nate Washington—coming off the best season of his career—and Kendall Wright and Damian Williams available to still provide what should be a proficient group of talent.
Expectations are high for this crop of receivers, with the Titans continuing to move to a more modern, pass-heavy offense under the new coaching regime.
Britt and Wright will be counted on to be consistent big-play threats throughout the season along with a couple players at other positions.
Overall, the 2012 Tennessee Titans roster with a healthy Britt and the first-round pick Wright added to the mix give the team its best receiver group since moving to Tennessee.
The top five receivers are all but set. Mariani will likely make the team as both a return man and a sixth receiver while Britt misses time with a probable suspension.
The other receivers are mostly competing for practice squad spots.
TEs on roster: Jared Cook, Craig Stevens, Taylor Thompson, Cameron Graham, Brandon Barden, Beau Brinkley
Projected starters: Jared Cook
Offseason additions: Taylor Thompson, Brandon Barden, Joey Haynos, Beau Brinkley
Roster cuts: Joey Haynos
Projected final roster: Jared Cook, Craig Stevens, Taylor Thompson, Beau Brinkley
Jared Cook is in the final year of his rookie contract and is yet to prove capable of being a reliable receiving option.
Cook has shown flashes of brilliance over the last two seasons, but has not been able to maintain the output through a full season.
Craig Stevens remains as a strong blocking tight end, and Taylor Thompson is a bit of a developmental talent at this point after playing his entire collegiate career at defensive end.
Beau Brinkley is essentially a lock to make the roster as the team's only long-snapper currently on the roster.
The recent signing of Joey Haynos could be a sign that the team is searching for another blocking tight-end option.
Haynos has two years of NFL experience and could provide the Titans with another tight end to help out against blitzing defenses, but doesn't stand much chance of making the final roster.
OTs on roster: Michael Roos, Byron Stingily, David Stewart, Michael Otto, Troy Kropog
Projected starters: Michael Roos, David Stewart
Offseason additions: Jonathan Palmer
Roster cuts: Jonathan Palmer
Projected final roster: Michael Roos, David Stewart, Michael Otto, Byron Stingily
Michael Roos and David Stewart form one of the league's top offensive tackle duos. The finesse of Roos makes him an elite pass-blocking tackle and a reliable run-blocker.
Stewart brings more of an in-your-face mauler style to the Titans O-line, making him a strong cog in the running game.
With 204 starts between the two Pro Bowl caliber tackles, we really haven't seen a lot of what the reserves can do.
Michael Otto has seen starts in place of Stewart and performed very well, but otherwise, there is only preseason experience available for the two remaining backups.
With all the talk of fixing the offensive line this offseason, Roos and Stewart have managed to remain out of any blame game chatter.
Barring any major injuries to the starting tackles, the Titans will continue to see the very high level of play they've been getting from the position.
OGs on roster: Steve Hutchinson, Ryan Durand, Leroy Harris, Kyle DeVan, Michael Jasper
Projected starters: Steve Hutchinson and Leroy Harris
Offseason additions: Kyle DeVan, George Bias, Michael Jasper
Roster cuts: George Bias
Projected final roster: Steve Hutchinson, Leroy Harris, Ryan Durand
There's been a lot of emphasis on improving the interior of the offensive line this year, and the one big change has been the signing of all-pro talent Steve Hutchinson to lead the way.
The Titans had one of the league's worst run-blocking lines in the league last year, with far too many plays having seen opposing defenses get penetration before the back could get going.
Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean reported that a lot is being expected of Hutchinson to improve the team's line play. Offensive coordinator Chris Palmer said of the 12-year pro Hutchinson:
Steve has done an outstanding job. He is the glue of that offensive line right now. He is a veteran who has played a lot of snaps, knows how to play the game. I think he settles everyone down up front. The more guys you can have like that, the better off you are.
Leroy Harris is being shifted over to right guard for the first time in his career, but should do well playing next to the mauling David Stewart.
Fernando Velasco is in battle to become the team's starting center, but should he miss out on the opportunity, he will remain a valuable backup.
(Update) Ryan Durand will benefit from Velasco being the lead candidate for the now vacant starting center position as the team's next best reserve guard on the roster.
OCs on roster: Eugene Amano, Kevin Matthews, Chris Harris, Fernando Velasco
Projected starter: Fernando Velasco
Offseason additions: William Vlachos, Jon Cooper, Chris Harris
Roster cuts: William Vlachos, Jon Cooper
Projected final roster: Fernando Velasco, Kevin Matthews
(Update) Titans C Eugene Amano was diagnosed with a torn right triceps on Aug. 4 and is out for the season.
That will open up the battle for starting center completely, with Fernando Velasco being the early favorite to win the job.
Starting center Eugene Amano has been the target of a lot of criticism for putting together yet another poor year of run-blocking, but also performed poorly on passing games as well.
Amano has been a far cry from what the Titans had in Kevin Mawae before him, but not much has been done to improve the situation.
The team brought in a parade of free-agent centers during the offseason, but failed to sign any of them and instead looking internally for a replacement.
Kevin Matthews and C/G Fernando Velasco have both looked solid in OTAs and training camp so far, but not much improvement should be expected should a change be made to the starting lineup.
With the new coaching regime placing a heavier emphasis on passing the ball, the player that does the best job of keeping the team's quarterback clean will likely win the position battle.
DEs on roster: Derrick Morgan, Dave Ball, Keyunta Dawson, Malcolm Sheppard, Kamerion Wimbley, Leger Douzable, Pannel Egboh, Scott Solomon
Projected starters: Kamerion Wimbley, Pannel Egboh
Offseason additions: Leger Douzable, Scott Solomon
Roster cuts: None
Projected final roster: Derrick Morgan, Kamerion Wimbley, Leger Douzable, Pannel Egboh, Scott Solomon
The Titans defense picked up a measly 28 sacks last season. That was good for 31st in the league last season.
Kamerion Wimbley was signed away from the Oakland Raiders to help remedy the situation by adding more speed to the team's pass rush after a 2011 offseason heavily focused on adding size.
Wimbley isn't being counted on alone to be the savior of the team's pass rush. A healthy Derrick Morgan is expected to do well with a shift to the left side.
Will his knee back to 100 percent, Titans fans will finally get a chance to see what the first-round pick can do.
Dave Ball has been a great rotational player for the Titans since being signed, but is also an injury risk with his concussions starting to add up.
Leger Douzable fits the mold of the defensive coordinator's emphasis on size and will be able to play both end and tackle for the team, while Scott Solomon offers a more traditional defensive end presence should Ball fall to another injury.
DTs on roster: Sen'Derrick Marks, Mike Martin, DaJohn Harris, Jurrell Casey, Karl Klug, Zach Clayton, Lamar Divens
Projected starters: Jurrell Casey, Sen'Derrick Marks
Offseason additions: Mike Martin, DaJohn Harris, Lamar Divens
Roster cuts: None
Projected final roster: Jurrell Casey, Sen'Derrick Marks, Mike Martin, Karl Klug
A pair of mid-round rookie defensive tackles gave the Titans some hope for the future of its defensive line by being the unit's top two players.
Jurrell Casey and Karl Klug reaped immediate rewards for the team's defensive line rotation, with Casey being one of the NFL's top run-stoppers and Klug leading the team in sacks.
Sen’Derrick Marks is still around, along with Shaun Smith, but both could be in grave danger of losing not only their slot in the rotation, but also their roster spot.
The team hopes it has struck more mid-round gold in the form of Mike Martin who will definitely push for playing time early and often with Marks and Smith both underperforming last season.
The rest of the players on the roster appear to be solely camp bodies fighting for practice squad spots.
(Update) Shaun Smith was released by the team on Aug. 22, all but confirming the early success of third-rounder Mike Martin. Smith was never able to make the transition from a 3-4 nose to a 4-3 tackle.
OLBs on roster: Akeem Ayers, Patrick Bailey, Alex Watkins, Will Witherspoon, Zach Brown, Gerald McRath (IR)
Projected starters: Akeem Ayers, Will Witherspoon
Offseason additions: Alex Watkins, Zach Brown
Roster cuts: None
Projected final roster: Akeem Ayers, Patrick Bailey, Will Witherspoon, Zach Brown
The Titans are focused on getting younger at every position on defense, which puts a huge target on the back of 11-year veteran Will Witherspoon.
Witherspoon has been a solid force on the defense, but nothing particularly special. Ultimately, he serves his purpose.
Enter second-round pick Zach Brown who brings a lot of the sideline-to-sideline speed that Witherspoon once offered early in his career.
For Witherspoon, if he does not win the starting job, he will be released in a cost-cutting move. He is simply too expensive to be a reserve player.
Patrick Bailey is a special-teams stalwart that is ill-suited to make regular appearances as a linebacker.
Gerald McRath enters the final year of his rookie contract knowing he must perform when possible to extend his career in the league.
If he cannot contribute on special teams, however, he will struggle to make the roster.
(Update) The season-ending injury to Gerald McRath gives Will Witherspoon an improved chance of making the team should he lose his starting spot to the impressive Zach Brown.
MLBs on roster: Colin McCarthy, Zac Diles, Tim Shaw, Kevin Malast
Projected starters: Colin McCarthy
Offseason additions: Zac Diles, Kevin Malast
Roster cuts: None
Projected final roster: Colin McCarthy, Zac Diles, Tim Shaw
Colin McCarthy entered the starting lineup after a midseason injury to Barrett Ruud and never looked back. McCarthy has a knack for making splash plays with his 2011 stats totals coming out to 76 tackles, a team-high eight tackles for loss, one interception, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Like Patrick Bailey, Tim Shaw is another one of the team's standouts on special teams coverage that is also not a great fit at linebacker. His job is to rack up special teams tackles and that's it.
Since Shaw doesn't really constitute a backup at the position, the Titans brought in an experienced vet in the form of Zac Diles.
Diles brings the versatility to play strong-side and weak-side linebacker, in addition to his role as a middle linebacker, and adds some size to the unit as well.
Kevin Malast appears to be the odd man out in this situation, as he simply does not possess the skills to pass either of the names ahead of him on the depth chart.
CBs on roster: Jason McCourty, Alterraun Verner, Tommie Campbell, Ryan Mouton, Chris Hawkins, Coty Sensabaugh, Terrence Wheatley
Projected starters: Jason McCourty, Alterraun Verner
Offseason additions: Coty Sensabaugh
Roster cuts: None
Projected final roster: Jason McCourty, Alterraun Verner, Tommie Campbell, Ryan Mouton, Chris Hawkins, Coty Sensabaugh
Jason McCourty and Alterraun Verner are both little-known talents that will get their chance in the sun with the departure of the overrated Cortland Finnegan.
Both corners have shown steady improvement since being drafted and offer two contrasting styles of play.
McCourty is a fast, athletic cornerback that has emerged as one of the young leaders of the Titans defense. His speed allows him to make up for any missteps in coverage and to gamble on plays a little more.
Verner plays a much more physical style. He is a versatile and vital piece of the defensive backfield, able to play outside in base defense and able to move inside in nickel and dime packages.
Tommie Campbell and Ryan Mouton are in a tight battle to be the team's third corner, who will mostly play outside to allow Verner to play the slot.
Campbell offers a lot more size and speed, but Mouton offers more experience and veteran savvy. It should prove to be an interesting battle to watch along with the battle for the final spot between rookie Coty Sensabaugh and Chris Hawkins.
Safeties on roster: Jordan Babineaux, Al Afalava, Aaron Francisco, Michael Griffin, Robert Johnson, Markelle Martin (PUP), Tracy Wilson
Projected starters: Jordan Babineaux, Michael Griffin
Offseason additions: Aaron Francisco, Al Afalava, Christian Scott, Tracy Wilson
Roster cuts: Christian Scott
Projected final roster: Jordan Babineaux, Michael Griffin, Robert Johnson, Markell Martin
The two starters at safety are set. Michael Griffin is one of the league's premiere free safeties despite his many shortcomings. It's ultimately an indictment on the depth of the position that Griffin is among the top 10 safeties in the league.
Jordan Babineaux led the team in tackles last season with 117 despite not being a starter for the full year. He does struggle with coverage from time to time, but is a major upgrade over the departed Chris Hope, whose play dropped off sharply.
None of the team's reserves have had any real experience at the NFL level. Markelle Martin is a rookie who is a bit raw and will need some time to develop. He should be able to contribute on special teams.
Robert Johnson has worked his way up from the practice squad to being second on the depth chart at free safety. He has never played in an NFL game, but will get his chance this year.
Al Afalava will be counted on to contribute immediately on special teams, and the team will hope to never have to insert him on defense.
Overall, the team could use more experience at the position, but as I stated earlier, safety is not a very deep position in the NFL.
Kicking specialists on roster: Rob Bironas, Brett Kern
Projected starters: Rob Bironas, Brett Kern
Offseason additions: Will Batson
Roster cuts: Will Batson
Projected final roster: Rob Bironas, Brett Kern
Rob Bironas is a sure-fire bet to maintain his stellar career since joining the Titans in 2005.
Statistically one of the top 10 kickers in NFL history, Bironas has made 86.3 percent of his field goals in the first seven years of his career and is not showing any signs of regressing.
Brett Kern is a strong-legged punter that has shown the ability to down his kicks inside the opponents’ 20-yard line after learning some tricks of the trade from former Titans punter Craig Hentrich.
Will Batson has some experience in the Arena Football League and doesn't have much of a chance, if any, of taking over Kern's punting spot on the final roster.
Batson will likely remain with the team throughout the offseason as a means of keeping Bironas' and Kerns' legs fresh, as well as getting his name in league circles.
Returners on roster: Marc Mariani (IR), Damian Williams, Lavelle Hawkins, Darius Reynaud
Projected starters: Marc Mariani
Offseason additions: Kendall Wright
Roster cuts: None
Projected final roster: Darius Reynaud, Damian Williams, Kendall Wright
In 2011, Marc Mariani appeared in all 16 games as a reserve, ranking seventh in the AFC with a 10.7 punt return avg. and finishing eighth in the AFC with a 23.4 kickoff return avg.
He is the most likely candidate to be the team's punt and kick return specialist after holding down the role for the past two seasons.
Damian Williams has done an admirable job as a returner in spot duty. The team tends to rely on him if Mariani goes down or if they need a sure-handed option on the field.
Lavelle Hawkins has highlight reels all over YouTube for his return abilities during his college days, but has hardly made a mark at the position in the NFL.
He still remains a reliable option as mainly a punt returner should the team need a touchdown-scoring threat on the field.
Kendall Wright could be an option here, but I would imagine that with the unreliability of Kenny Britt, the team will error on the side of caution with him, rather than allowing him to return kicks.