Kickoff Countdown: Analyzing The Tennessee Titans 2010 Depth Chart
Last Saturday marked the deadline NFL teams are forced to cut the number of players on their roster down to 53.
Cuts the Tennessee Titans made included quarterback Chris Simms, running backs Samkon Gado and Alvin Pearman, full back Jed Collins, wide receivers Dominique Edison and Paul Williams, tight ends Sean Ryan and Steven Pfahler, offensive lineman Kevin Matthews, Nick Howell, Kevin McCaskill, and Michael Toudouze; defensive lineman Raheem Brock, Eric Bakhtiari, David Howard, Joe Joeseph, and Chris Harrington; linebacker Patrick Trahan, and defensive backs Myron Rolle and Tye Hill.
The Titans later cut Stanford Keglar and LeGarrette Blount to make room for linebackers Tim Shaw and Patrick Bailey.
Here what the final depth chart should look like for the Tennessee Titans for the 2010 season:
Quarterback: Vince Young / Kerry Collins / Rusty Smith
Running Back: Chris Johnson / Javon Ringer
Full Back: Ahmad Hall
Vince Young and Chris Johnson form the most explosive quarterback-running back tandem in the league. They complement each other perfectly.
As defenses are forced to cheat up into the box to defend Johnson, more holes in the secondary are created for Young to throw into. When Johnson carries the ball, defenses must stay home backside to defend against a Young bootleg.
Kerry Collins, though he struggled last season, is still one of the better backup quarterbacks in the league. The Rusty Smith selection on draft day was heavily criticized, but he played well in the preseason and looks to be the Titans second string quarterback of the future.
Javon Ringer has impressed since the day he put on a Titans uniform. This year, he will be given a chance to see if he can take his success in practice and the preseason and translate it to success in a meaningful game. The Titans currently only have two running backs on the roster so at least for now he will be heavily relied on when Chris Johnson is on the sideline.
Ahmad Hall aka Sarge is one of the best blocking fullbacks in the league. He can catch balls out of the backfield, but isn't a threat on the ground at all. Hall was a vital part of the blocking machine that assisted Johnson in his 2000 rushing yard campaign.
With Young looking better than ever, and CJ2K aiming to shatter the rushing record, the Titans offense has the potential to be a top ten caliber squad in 2010.
WR: Kenny Britt
WR: Nate Washington / Justin Gage / Lavelle Hawkins / Damian Williams / Marc Mariani
TE: Bo Scaife / Craig Stevens / Jared Cook
As of now, Kenny Britt is on the bench and Nate Washington and Justin Gage are the starters. Jeff Fisher has warned Britt about being stripped even of more playing time if he doesn't step his play up.
Britt is taking responsibility for his short comings, and the fact that he is without a doubt the most talented receiver on the roster should win him a starting job some time this season.
Nate Washington has reportedly stood out as the Titans go to guy in training camp which is great to hear after a season where he was plagued by dropped balls. Justin Gage is coming off a season full of injuries, but he is back to 100 percent.
Lavelle Hawkins looked to be the most improved player on the entire team during training camp, but he will have to make plays on Sunday to cement increased playing time throughout the season.
Rookie Damian Williams started camp late due to an injury, but he performed well when he finally arrived. He should receive more playing time as the season progresses. The other rookie receiver, Marc Mariani, is most likely too far back in the depth chart to be given any meaningful reps.
Bo Scaife will continue to be Vince Young's security blanket in the passing game. He is one of the more underrated tight ends in the league.
Craig Stevens replaces Alge Crumpler as the team's blocking tight end. Some experts have stated the Titans running game could suffer slightly without Crumpler as he turned into a dominant run blocker late in his career, but Craig Stevens is a run-blocking specialist and may even be upgrade in that department.
Jared Cook better step up this season as the Titans front office choked in 2009 trading a second round pick for a third. Cook amazed in training camp last year, but failed to get on the field during the regular season. Cook will most likely only get playing time during third down situations.
After years of the receiving core being the team’s greatest weakness, the Titans now have a solid group of playmakers for Vince Young to throw to.
Left Tackle: Michael Roos / Michael Otto
Left Guard: Leroy Harris / Fernando Velasco / Ryan Durand
Center: Eugene Amano / Fernando Velasco
Right Guard: Jake Scott / Fernando Velasco / Ryan Durand
Right Tackle: David Stewart / Troy Kropog
The Titans offensive line is the best unit in the league, besides the New York Jets of course.
Michael Roos and David Stewart make up one of the most talented tackle combinations in the NFL. Roos is a Pro Bowl left tackle that rarely lets up a sack. Stewart is a fierce run-blocker known for his physicality.
With the departure of Kevin Mawae, last year’s starter at left guard, Eugene Amano, shifts over to center while Leroy Harris steps in at guard. It may seem like the line would take a step back after losing the eight-time Pro Bowler Mawae, but if any change occurs, there should be an improvement. In this stage of Mawae's career, Harris is the far superior blocker in terms of physical strength.
Six-year veteran Jake Scott, who will be playing in his third year with the Titans, starts at the final guard position.
The young Michael Otto and Troy Kropog back up each tackle position while Fernando Velasco and Ryan Durand man the interior line.
If the line can stay injury free, they should be even more dominant than last season.
Right Defensive End: Derrick Morgan / Jacob Ford
Defensive Tackle: Tony Brown
Defensive Tackle: Jason Jones / Joven Haye / Sen'Derrick Marks / Dave Ball
Left Defensive End: William Hayes / Jason Babin / Dave Ball
Derrick Morgan isn't starting now, but he almost definitely will be by season’s end. He was drafted to play right away, and shouldn't have a problem beating out the other Titans defensive ends in time. Morgan would be starting right now if it wasn't for injuries that kept him out most of camp.
Right now Jacob Ford and William Hayes are the starters. Hayes started last year so Ford will most likely be put back into his situational pass-rusher role from last season.
Jason Babin should receive plenty of reps as he is the type of high motor the defensive end the Titans covet.
Tony Brown is the only player left from the "Chain Gang" days. Of course, that may change after hearing the latest Albert Haynesworth trade rumors. Brown is a converted defensive end who is a very solid interior pass rusher.
Jason Jones looks to fulfill the potential he showed in his rookie season. The three and a half sacks and three forced fumbles against the Steelers showed just how good he can be. He wasn't able to play much in 2009 because of an injury.
Joven Haye should be far more effective this year after losing twenty pounds. He said he didn't feel comfortable playing at 300 pounds as he is more of an athletic type of defensive tackle.
Second year defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks supposedly had a good offseason and should receive much more playing time in his second season. Being a second round pick, he better show some promise soon.
NFL journeyman Dave Ball will provide depth to both the defensive end and tackle positions.
The defensive line couldn't be much worse than it was in 2009, but with the addition of Morgan and improvements from young players like Hayes, Jones, Ford, and Marks, the line could return to a more respectable play.
Right Outside Linebacker: Will Witherspoon / Gerald McRath / Rennie Curran
Inside Linebacker: Stephen Tulloch / Gerald McRath / Colin Allred
Left Outside Linebacker: David Thornton / Gerald McRath / Colin Allred / Tim Shaw
For the first few weeks, Colin Allred will start at outside linebacker and Jamie Winborn, Patrick Bailey, and Tim Shaw will serve as backups.
The line backing core will change drastically when Gerald McRath returns from a suspension and David Thornton returns from injury. Most likely two of the players mentioned above will be cut to make room for McRath and Thornton.
McRath who transformed into a leader for the Titans defense during camp probably should be the favorite to start for the remainder of the season upon his return, but Jeff Fisher is known for his loyalty to veterans by protecting their starting job after injuries (see Nick Harper).
Tackling machine Stephen Tulloch returns for his third season as the Titans full time starter at inside linebacker. He led the team by recording a career high 121 tackles last season.
Former Eagle Will Witherspoon replaces Keith Bulluck at outside linebacker in 2010. If he can stay healthy, Witherspoon can be a 100-tackle linebacker, as he has achieved three times throughout his career.
Rookie fifth round pick Rennie Curran will provide quality depth and contribute on special teams. Tim Shaw will most likely beat out Winborn and Bailey after the return of McRath and Thornton because of his stellar special teams play. Shaw led the Chicago Bears in special teams tackles last season.
It is almost impossible to replace not only a talent, but a leader like Keith Bulluck at the linebacker position, but if the Titans defense wants to improve after a miserable 2009, they must move on.
Cornerback: Cortland Finnegan
Cornerback: Alterraun Verner / Jason McCourty / Ryan Mouton
Nickelback: Vincent Fuller
Free Safety: Michael Griffen / Vincent Fuller / Nick Schommer
Strong Safety: Chris Hope / Vincent Fuller / Robert Johnson / Donnie Nickey
The most heated position battle in Tennessee's camp between four players turned out to be a competition of just two. According to Titans website's unofficial depth chart, Jason McCourty is currently the starter opposite Cortland Finnegan. Rookie Alterraun Verner who performed outstanding throughout camp and the preseason should end up with the starting job sometime early in 2010.
Ryan Mouton who proved to be inferior to the other two competitors will have to settle for the fourth cornerback spot on the depth chart. The Titans will most likely bring in another corner which could bury Mouton even further in the depth chart.
Finnegan will obviously start at the other cornerback spot, and the Titans have said they will use him like the Jets use Darrelle Revis as he will follow around the other team’s number one receiver. In the past he just covered whoever lined up on his side of the field.
Michael Griffin and Chris Hope, both former Pro Bowlers who had very disappointing 2009 campaigns, but who look to be returning to their Honolulu form. Griffin must continue to regain his focus which a lack of resulted in costly blown coverage’s early in the season. Hope, on the other hand, actually has to think less as he said he over evaluated on the field last year and forgot to just play football.
Vincent Fuller is the Titans most valuable reserve as he will start at the nickel as well as most likely back up both safety positions. Young safeties Nick Schommer and Robert Johnson will get the vast majority of their playing time on special teams.
This group is the team's biggest question mark and pretty much the key to the Titans success in 2010. If the group is even remotely solid, than the defense could return its past form, but if it at all resembles last year's secondary, Titans fans are doomed for another season without the playoffs.
Kicker: Rob Bironas
Punter: Brett Kern
Kickoff Returner: Marc Mariani
Punt Returner: Damian Williams
Long Snapper: Ken Amato
Rob Bironas returns as one of the league's best kickers. He possesses a tank for a leg and is clutch as they come.
Brett Kern took over for long-time Titan Craig Hentrich last season and couldn't have done much better in filling some pretty big shoes.
The Titans return game was possibly the worst in the entire league last year. Rookies Damian Williams and Marc Mariani will both split time at each return spot until someone distances himself from the other. Mariani seemed to be better at returning kickoffs during the preseason than Williams while Williams excelled more at punt returner during his time at USC.
Ken Amato returns as the Titans long snapper.
The kicking game should continue to be a difference maker while any improvement in the return game would be a huge relief.