5 Tennessee Titans Veterans Who Could Be Camp Casualties
Training camp is in full swing for the Tennessee Titans, who are coming off of a mediocre 7-9 season. They have a new head coach in Ken Whisenhunt, and that might mean a few unexpected cuts before the regular season gets underway.
There are several loaded position battles that will force some unfortunate cuts to good players, which is a problem you want to have this time of year.
A few rookies on this roster could also end up pushing some veterans off the roster.
With expectations running high that the Titans can finally end their playoff drought, here are five veterans who might not get the chance to help with that cause in 2014.
The injury bug might be what becomes the undoing of Shonn Greene, who has five seasons of NFL experience.
If Greene can prove he's fully recovered and can stay healthy, then he offers a lot of value to the Titans' running back committee they want to use.
The problem is rookie Bishop Sankey and newly acquired Dexter McCluster are also in the mix to get a lot of touches at running back.
Jackie Battle is also having an excellent training camp, and that has surged him up the depth chart as a fullback and a short-yardage option.
Then you have undrafted free agent Antonio Andrews who can't be forgotten. A strong showing from him might make it even more difficult for Greene.
Will there be any room for an injury-prone Greene at camp's end?
Ken Whisenhunt would like Greene to shed around five to 10 pounds, per Paul Kuharsky's Reading the Coverage on ESPN.com.
However, I do think Greene will narrowly survive training camp and make the 53-man roster thanks to the little experience this unit has. He still needs to have a strong showing in the preseason to help make that decision a lot easier for Whisenhunt and his staff.
It's been a rough going for Tommie Campbell so far in training camp. He's never been able to really crack the starting lineup despite his great athleticism and high ceiling.
Campbell has gotten beat in seven-on-seven drills several times this past week. The most recent practice saw Campbell get beat deep by Justin Hunter twice, according to Paul Kuharsky's camp report on ESPN.com.
Michael Preston also got in on the act of beating Campbell.
Even though Campbell only has three years of NFL experience, I still consider him a veteran who has a chance to really prove something this year after the departure of Alterraun Verner. He's come up flat and now is in danger of even making the final roster.
Marqueston Huff was drafted in the fourth round of the May's draft, and that draft pick might be the difference-maker in pushing Campbell off the roster. He has to perform much better to reserve himself a spot.
Craig Stevens fell completely off the radar last season with just two receptions. The entire load at tight end was carried by Delanie Walker, and he did the best job you could have expected.
Now Stevens has to prove he's still an asset in training camp. He's been relatively quiet so far, but it's in Stevens' favor that Ken Whisenhunt is running things. The offense is looking to use the tight ends more often, per Joe Leadingham of WKRN in Nashville.
I don't think Stevens' job is entirely safe if Taylor Thompson has a big training camp. It would give the Titans their top two options at tight end if Thompson beats out Stevens. However, there could be room for all three if Whisenhunt decides he needs that many in this new offense.
The fact of the matter is Stevens has to reestablish his value this training camp after 2013. If he does that with a coaching staff that looks to use the tight end much more, then 2014 could be a big bounce-back year for Stevens.
Arguably the most competitive position on the roster is at inside linebacker, and that spells trouble for veteran Moise Fokou.
Fokou had a 2013 season worth forgetting, as did much of the Titans linebackers.
The Titans brought in Wesley Woodyard from the Broncos to hold down one spot on the inside, and Zach Brown will probably win the other spot. Who provides that key depth will be where the real battle happens in training camp.
Fokou has to beat out guys like rookie Avery Williamson, Zaviar Gooden, Colin McCarthy, Patrick Bailey and Brandon Copeland. I like the upside of all the younger guys over Fokou's veteran experience and shaky starting performances.
Bailey is the other veteran who is in direct competition with Fokou for a roster spot. I've always liked Bailey's special teams production, which is widely overlooked. He's due a lot of money in 2014 ($1.2 million, per Spotrac).
The numbers don't lie for how bad 2013 was for Fokou. He finished almost last out of 55 qualified linebackers in terms of overall production, according to Music City Miracles via Pro Football Focus.
The Titans could end up deciding to go with the athletic upsides of their younger inside linebackers over the aging Fokou. That would be the better route than a player who has struggled as a starter.
It's always easy to root for an NFL journeyman like Derek Hagan. He's hoping to earn himself a spot among a young Titans receiving corps.
This is Hagan's fifth NFL team since his rookie year in 2006, and he didn't play at all last season after failing to make a roster.
Hagan has to beat out primarily Marc Mariani or Michael Preston for a roster spot. I don't see the Titans taking more than five wide receivers to the regular season. It will be an uphill battle for Hagan to jump ahead of one those two, who are both having solid training camps as well.
There are a handful of undrafted receivers who are somewhat in the mix along with Hagan. It's a battle worth keeping an eye on as camp unfolds.
I see Hagan unfortunately just missing the team and being one of the final cuts before Week 1. If Hagan can manage to make the roster, it will be one of the better stories coming out of training camp.