7 Players Who Might Find Themselves on Titans' Practice Squad in 2013
There's a good way to go before the Tennessee Titans have to start making serious roster cuts, but even so, they have to have an eye, from the very beginning, on which players they want to hold on to in the practice squad.
The practice squad may not seem important, but it can be a valuable tool. Arian Foster spent a year there before he took the NFL by storm. And stashing a backup player you don't have roster room for can come in handy if injuries start piling up.
Here are seven players who probably won't make the Titans roster, but whom they'll want to hold on to anyway.
1. Jack Doyle, TE
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Jack Doyle has made some headlines, which is always great for an undrafted free agent, but there's probably not room on the roster for him.
Craig Stevens is the best blocker at the position, and is currently listed as the starting fullback as well, Delanie Walker got paid big bucks to play for Tennessee, and Taylor Thompson will be entering his sophomore season with high hopes.
Even if Walker has to miss some time for his knee, there isn't really room for Doyle right now.
However, with the promise he's shown, the Titans won't want to let him go anywhere else, so they'll almost certainly try to sign him to the practice squad.
2. Michael Preston, WR
Another position the Titans are cramped at is wide receiver.
Michael Preston, despite showing some potential last season, has almost no shot of making the final roster. With Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright, Justin Hunter, Nate Washington, Kevin Walters and Damian Williams all fighting for what may only be five spots, there's no room for Preston.
That's not even taking into account Marc Mariani or a whole host of undrafted free-agent wide receivers from 2013.
In 2012, Preston played in four games, where he caught five passes for 59 yards, three of them securing first downs.
Preston is tall (6'5") and seems to have good hands, so he may have a future with the Titans beyond the practice squad, but for now, that's where he's likely to end up.
3. Jonathan Willard, LB
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The Titans have not been great at middle linebacker these last few years. Colin McCarthy is outstanding when healthy, but that's been rare, and so far, other players at the position have left much to be desired.
Outside linebacker has been better in that the starters have been consistently fantastic, but there's a real lack of depth.
If the Titans wanted an additional linebacker to act as a backup, they'll only be able to afford him if he's on the practice squad, and the only player eligible is Jonathan Willard.
Willard had a solid college career, and as the only linebacker on the roster who can make the practice squad at all, he has a very good chance of getting put there for now.
4. Daimion Stafford, SS
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Daimion Stafford was a draft pick, unlike many of the other players on this list, but that doesn't mean he won't spend his first year with the team on the practice squad.
The Titans like Stafford well enough to spend a draft pick on him, so if nothing else, he's unlikely to be cut. However, the pick that they used was their last, so he has the most to prove.
He'll also be behind Bernard Pollard and George Wilson in the depth chart, so the chances of him seeing any playing time are unlikely, unless either Pollard or Wilson were to get injured.
The Titans have their strong safeties of the present. Stafford may be what they plan for the future at the position, but even so, he has no place on the team right now.
5. Khalid Wooten, CB
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The other draft pick from this year who may end up on the practice squad is fellow seventh-rounder Khalid Wooten, who finds himself in a similar situation to Stafford.
Wooten looks like he may be a developmental slot corner, a position firmly occupied by Alterraun Verner for the time being. With Tommie Campbell and Blidi Wreh-Wilson competing for playing time and Coty Sensabaugh subbing in, there are too many defensive backs whom Wooten can't beat out right now.
Wooten has speed, and that is why the Titans drafted him. They won't need him on special teams, so for now, he'll just need to work on his technique. Verner will be a free agent in 2014, so if Wooten can refine his game enough by then, he may have a future with the team.
6. Stefan Charles, DT
The Titans wanted more size on the defensive line, and Stefan Charles certainly fits the bill there. At 6'5" and 315 pounds, he's one of the biggest defensive tackles on the roster.
Of course, he's also just an undrafted free agent, so just size won't get him on the team. He has a lot of competition right now. Charles, Zach Clayton and DaJohn Harris will all be competing for what is essentially one spot in the rotation.
Jurrell Casey is the best defensive tackle on the team, Mike Martin showed promise as a rookie, and Sammie Hill was given a substantial paycheck to play for Tennessee, so they're all sure bets to make the final roster.
The favorites for the last two spots are Karl Klug and Antonio Johnson, and it's difficult to imagine either of them losing out. However, if one of them stumbles, or if an injury occurs, there's suddenly an opening.
Til then, Charles is likely to be on the practice squad.
7. Zach Clayton, DT
Speaking of defensive tackles, one of the draft picks from the 2011 class that featured Karl Klug and Jurrell Casey is still around and still fighting for a roster spot.
Zach Clayton doesn't have the big size that Charles has (Clayton only measures in at 6'2" and 299 pounds), but he has some experience in the NFL, and that could make the difference.
Clayton was a part of the Titans practice squad in 2012, but in 2011, he made the roster, even playing in four games and securing three tackles.
Not the best résumé, but it's more than any rookie has. He also had an impressive preseason in 2011, where he had four total tackles, a sack and a tackle for a loss. He has potential, but it's make-or-break time for him now.
He is still technically eligible for the practice squad, but entering his third year in the league, he'll face an uphill battle for that.