Projected Tennessee Titans Final 53-Man Roster, Training Camp Edition
The excitement levels are extremely high for the Tennessee Titans and their fans as the opening of training camp nears.
For head coach Mike Munchak, he has a lot of tough decisions cut out for him and his coaching staff. Key position battles will be plentiful, and there's only room for 53 players.
Having plenty of healthy competition within your team is a promising sign, but keeping the right players on the 53-man roster will be critical considering how young the Titans already are.
Here are the predictions for the final 53-man roster that will suit up in Week 1 heading into training camp.
(3): Jake Locker, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Rusty Smith
Analysis: There isn't a technical quarterback competition heading into training camp. Jake Locker will undoubtedly be the starter in Week 1 as long as no injuries occur.
Knock on some wood there, because he can't afford another setback in any fashion.
The Titans are still counting on Locker to be the franchise quarterback, and you almost have to give him a clean slate heading into the 2013 season.
Last season was a disaster in so many ways that you really can't pin it on a young quarterback that Locker was, and still is.
However, this season is a different story. Locker has will have a fully competent quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick backing him up.
The Titans didn't add Fitzpatrick in free agency to ride the bench all season, even if Locker is struggling severely.
It's fully Locker's starting role heading into Week 1, and he will be focused on learning this new system provided by offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains.
The battle for third-string quarterback will be an interesting battle to watch.
Rusty Smith is the incumbent, but Nathan Enderle will give him a challenge for a roster spot.
It's Smith's job to lose. He's been with the organization for a couple of years now, and he'll have to really regress as a third-string quarterback to lose his spot. He probably retains his spot on the depth chart.
(3): Chris Johnson, Shonn Greene, Darius Reynaud
Analysis: The top two on the depth chart are set in stone at running back for the Titans.
Chris Johnson's touches may decrease slightly with Shonn Greene's presence, but it's still fully his position to dominate for the Titans.
It's very encouraging that Johnson is practicing hard this offseason, and the presence of Shonn Greene should motivate him to return to his dominate form that he enjoyed his first two seasons with the Titans.
Greene is a guy who will get meaningful touches in short-yardage situations, and he'll help the Titans move the chains on short third-down conversions.
Much like the quarterback position, the third-string duties get a little more interesting.
First you have Jalen Parmele, who was brought in after playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars last season. The Titans won't have room for him despite the fact that he played well against them in the season finale last season.
Darius Reynaud will make the 53-man roster due to his kick return abilities. He can play running back, but obviously the Titans are hoping it doesn't come to that.
(1): Quinn Johnson
Analysis: Quinn Johnson had a nice season amid all of the turmoil that turned out a 6-10 record. He has the ability to not only provide a nice lane for the running back, but he's not a bad receiver out of the backfield.
He'll retain his role as the team's fullback, and the Titans won't take two fullbacks to Week 1. There are just too many other key position battles to reserve two spots for fullbacks.
That means that Colin Mooney, who is more valuable as a fullback, will probably be more of a practice-squad guy. He's listed as a running back right now, but there's no way he leap frogs any of the other running backs to make the team in that regard.
(6): Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright, Nate Washington, Justin Hunter, Kevin Walter, Damian Williams
Analysis: This is by far one of the biggest traffic jams the Titans have probably had at wide receiver since moving to Tennessee.
It will not be easy to choose which wide receivers they are going to keep on the roster after the obvious choices of Britt, Wright, Washington and Hunter.
You have to figure that Kevin Walter's veteran experience will be enough to earn him a roster spot, as long as he stays healthy.
Damian Williams is a big X-factor in this gigantic position battle. He played moderately well last season after being thrust into a bigger role. He made the most out of his targets after catching 30 of the 45 balls thrown his way.
He also came just eight yards short of cracking 600 yards in 2011.
Williams will be challenged by a handful of undrafted free agents, the big-play abilities of Michael Preston and the comeback story of Marc Mariani.
There is no questioning Mariani's heart as a football player. If the Titans were allowed just a few more roster spots, then he would be a lock to make the team.
Unfortunately, those 53 spots are prime real estate that doesn't come cheap. Mariani has proved virtually nothing as a wide receiver, and his kick returning value has dwindled thanks to Reynaud's presence.
Michael Preston's athleticism and ability to make big plays will get him a puncher's chance to make the team, but unfortunately there just aren't enough roster spots available.
Mariani is probably on his way out as well.
(4): Delanie Walker, Craig Stevens, Jack Doyle, Taylor Thompson
Analysis: It's very clear that the Titans are fully invested in giving Locker as many weapons as possible.
In comes the idea of the Titans keeping four tight ends for the 53-man roster, after keeping seven receivers.
Yes, both of those are high numbers. It means that the Titans will have to cut some promising players in other positions to make room for all of these "receivers" on offense.
Delanie Walker was a big free-agent signing from the San Francisco 49ers. He's an underrated guy who played in Vernon Davis' shadow in San Francisco.
Another guy who is highly underrated is Craig Stevens. He can be highly effective as a blocker and a receiver.
If the Titans do only keep three tight ends, then they'll have a very tough time choosing between Taylor Thompson and undrafted free agent Jack Doyle.
Thompson is still trying to transition from being a defensive end in college, but he's getting some good reports this offseason.
There is no shortage of good first impressions from Doyle as he will look to make this team after setting making a name for himself in the record books for Western Kentucky's small football program.
Then you have Brandon Barden in the mix, who was a local product out of Vanderbilt last offseason.
When you really break all of this down, both Doyle and Thompson offer too much upside to not be kept on the roster.
It may seem crazy, but the Titans will take four tight ends on their 53-man roster.
(4): David Stewart, Michael Roos, Michael Otto, Byron Stingily
Analysis: David Stewart and Michael Roos are locks to be the starting duo for the Titans at offensive tackle. They've played exceptionally well throughout their time on the offensive line together.
Michael Otto has starting experience, and he'll retain his duties as the primary backup to Stewart and Roos.
The raw talent of Stingily will earn him a roster spot as a guy that will basically serve as an emergency guy on the offensive line. As we all learned from last season, emergencies tend to happen on the offensive line.
There really isn't much competition at offensive tackle heading into camp. Barry Richardson and Daniel Baldridge will have a tough time making the team.
Interior Offensive Line
(5): Andy Levitre, Chance Warmack, Fernando Velasco, Chris Spencer, Brian Schwenke
Analysis: If you like the Titans and offensive guards, then this offseason was a fun time for you.
The Titans added a coveted free agent in Andy Levitre and drafted one of the top prospects in the 2013 NFL draft with Chance Warmack.
Both Levitre and Warmack will be the unquestioned starters for the Titans entering Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Titans added some depth behind these two guys, and it will make for an intriguing battle behind them in training camp.
First you have Chris Spencer, who is a great veteran addition to this offensive line. Depth was a big issue last season, and he solves that problem in a big way.
Spencer will be a solid player to turn to if an injury occurs.
Another guy who has plenty of value is Velasco, who has seen some time at center. He's too versatile of a guy to lose on the roster.
Another veteran that will offer some competition is Kasey Studdard. He's mainly been a backup during his career, but he does have a handful of starts under his belt.
The Titans are effectively addressing their offensive line this offseason, and they'll reserve five spots on the roster for these offensive guards.
As for center, it's a job that rookie Brian Schwenke will ultimately win. He has a mean streak about him that the Titans really need at the position.
Robert Turner is another guy who offers both depth and versatility to the offensive line. He'll challenge Schwenke at center, but he can play guard as well.
(4): Zach Brown, Akeem Ayers, Zaviar Gooden, Patrick Bailey
Analysis: This is an exciting position that is growing by the second for the Titans.
Brown is poised for a big year after having a very promising rookie season that ended in 93 tackles and three interceptions.
Even though it really doesn't matter, you can pencil him in as the lead outside linebacker ahead of Ayers.
That is no knock on Ayers. He's another important piece to this group of young linebackers that should continue to improve.
The Titans drafted Gooden in the third round of the 2013 NFL draft, and it came as a moderate surprise.
If there's one word you can attach to Gooden's game, it's definitely speed. For that simple reason, he'll be a primary backup at outside linebacker.
Rounding out the list is Patrick Bailey, who is extremely important on special teams. You can consider Bailey an outside linebacker or inside linebacker, but he's really just a key special teams guy.
(3): Colin McCarthy, Moise Fokou, Tim Shaw
Analysis: All eyes are on Colin McCarthy and his return from injury. He has all of the talent to be the leader of this franchise at middle linebacker for years to come.
Moise Fokou was a nice addition to add depth and experience in case McCarthy gets bitten by injury bug yet again.
Special teams value will keep Tim Shaw on the roster, but Greg Jones' special teams value won't be enough to reserve four roster spots for inside linebackers.
(4): Kamerion Wimbley, Derrick Morgan, Ropati Pitoitua, Lavar Edwards
Analysis: The top two guys are Wimbley and Morgan, but the rest is really up for debate.
Edwards is a promising pass-rusher out of LSU who was buried on the depth chart behind Barkevious Mingo, and that led to him falling to the Titans' grasp in the draft.
Look for Edwards to make an impact in the preseason and earn himself a reserve role on the 53-man roster.
Pitoitua was another nice free-agency pickup for the Titans, and he'll add some much-needed size to the defensive line. He played a moderate role for the Chiefs last season.
(4): Jurrell Casey, Sammie Lee Hill, Mike Martin, Karl Klug
Analysis: This position struggles greatly last season, and it led to the Titans finishing 24th in stopping the run.
The addition of Sammie Lee Hill from the Detroit Lions really helps with having a big body to clog up the middle. He'll be a vital part of this defense in 2013.
Jurrell Casey should continue to improve on his successful 2012 season that ended in 54 tackles and two forced fumbles.
One guy who really came on strong last season was Mike Martin. He has the opportunity to earn himself a a lot of playing time if he performs well in training camp.
Karl Klug's spot on the depth chart could be in jeopardy thanks to the emergence of Martin, but he's still a safe bet to make the 53-man roster.
The Titans will take a look at one more reserve defensive tackle, and Stefan Charles is a guy who brings enough talent to fight for a roster spot. He dominated the collegiate ranks in Canada, and that should be enough to give him some consideration at least. However, it probably won't be enough.
(5): Jason McCourty, Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Tommie Campbell, Alterraun Verner, Khalid Wooten
Analysis: First off, Jason McCourty doesn't get enough credit for how good of a cornerback he is. He played in a bad defensive system last season that hampered his talents. Look for the presence of Gregg Williams to really showcase McCourty's talents, if you didn't notice them already.
Alterraun Verner has been lining up opposite of McCourty for a little while now, but that could be hanging in the balance at this point.
Both Tommie Campbell and Blidi Wreh-Wilson have the abilities to play man coverage that Verner may not have. This defense will play more man coverage that last season, so look for Verner to be more of a nickel package guy.
Wooten was drafted in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL draft, and he'll be mainly a special teams guy his rookie season.
Coty Sensabaugh will make a push to get a roster spot, but there will ultimately not be enough room for him.
(4): Bernard Pollard, Michael Griffin, George Wilson, Daimion Stafford
Analysis: The Titans made a lot of noise at this position by adding Bernard Pollard and George Wilson in free agency.
Both will play key roles in improving the secondary, but Pollard will give this defense a new attitude that it has been missing for a while now.
If there's one free-agent move that made sense for the Titans this offseason, it was getting a hard hitter like Pollard to be in the secondary.
The free-agency additions allow Michael Griffin to play free safety, which showcases his talents way more than the alternative.
Griffin should remind everyone that he has Pro Bowl talent in 2013 thanks to the additions of Pollard and Wilson.
Al Afalava has shown that he can be a reliable backup, but he'll lose his spot to rookie Daimion Stafford. He's limited athletically, but he can grow as a special teams guys for the next couple of seasons.
(3): Rob Bironas, Brett Kern, Beau Brinkley
Analysis: Rob Bironas is a valuable asset to the Titans thanks to his range that goes well past 50 yards. The Titans probably wish they didn't have to settle for three points so often, but Bironas is a reliable option that was worth over $6 million for the next two years.
Brett Kern has proved to be a solid punter for the Titans as he finished seventh in the NFL in punting average, including a long of 71 yards. He's not going anywhere as the Titans punter.
Long snapper is a role that is always overlooked, but Beau Brinkley will hold onto that role for the Titans.