Early Projections for the Tennessee Titans' Final 53-Man Roster
Once the draft is over, it feels like years and not months until training camp signals the start of the 2012 season. The Titans picked up 23 new players over the weekend counting undrafted free agents. The roster's maxed out for the summer at 90 players. 53 will make the cut. It's time to examine the roster position by position and give an early take on who's going to be rostered for the September 9th opener against the Patriots.
Matt Hasselbeck: He was the 16-game starter in 2011 and should start 2012 under center.
Jake Locker: While fans may clamor for him to start on opening day, Locker has to clearly beat Hasselbeck to be the starter and that's not happening yet.
Rusty Smith: He's the longest tenured third QB in Titans history.
Running Backs (3), Fullback (1)
Chris Johnson: Give the man a full offseason working with the team instead of alone in Orlando and perhaps some nitrous oxide to bring back the breakaway speed.
Javon Ringer: He's been the primary backup to Chris Johnson for two years and he'll play out his rookie contract in that role.
Jamie Harper: Harper didn't do anything in 2011 to show that he's going to beat Ringer to be the backup running back.
Collin Mooney (FB): Mooney was signed after the other undrafted rookies. He's a former Army running back who finished three years in the service. The fullback will continue to be diminished in importance in the Titans offense in 2012.
Wide Receivers (6)
Kenny Britt: It's not whether he regains his 2011 pre-ACL form, it's when.
Nate Washington: He should remain the starter opposite Britt.
Kendall Wright: Chris Palmer's going to get creative to make sure Wright's on the field a lot.
Damian Williams: Britt's return and Wright's selection in the draft moves Williams down the depth chart.
Lavelle Hawkins: He signed an extension so the team will hold onto him.
Marc Mariani: He won't play much as a receiver. Despite the rumors of Wright being a returner, Mariani's still the main man for those jobs.
Tight Ends (4)
Jared Cook: He's pretty much a slot receiver at this point, and a really good one.
Craig Stevens: He'll be called the starter because he blocks, and can catch the occasional pass.
Daniel Graham: While the rookie's developing, Graham will stay on the roster mainly for blocking.
Taylor Thompson: Don't expect much on the field from this college defensive end.
Offensive Linemen (8)
Michael Roos: He's half of the steady bookends at tackle.
Mike Otto: The backup "swing" tackle signed an extension in the offseason.
David Stewart: He's a mauler at right tackle.
Steve Hutchinson: The future Hall of Famer will fit in nicely at left guard.
Eugene Amano: He's the center until someone takes the job.
Fernando Velasco: He'll compete with Amano for the starting center job and otherwise will be a backup guard.
Kevin Matthews: Will his dad's skills finally rub off? Matthews was inactive all 16 games last year.
Leroy Harris: He'll move from left to right guard.He has to get more consistent in run blocking.
Rob Bironas: He's clutch and in the last year of his contract.
Brett Kern: He improved last year in all phases and even ran for one first down on a fake.
Jake Ingram: Long-term long-snapper Ken Amato has not been resigned, so this is Ingram's job.
Defensive Ends (4)
Kamerion Wimbley: He's the major addition to the defensive line. The question will be whether he can hold up against the run.
Derrick Morgan: In his third year, it's time for Morgan to earn his first-round draft slot.
Dave Ball: He's been a valuable backup for years and will start a game or two.
Scott Solomon: The team traded a 2013 draft pick for the opportunity to take Solomon.
Defensive Tackles (7)
Jurrell Casey: When you wear number 99, you need to be tough against the run. Casey does that and is surprisingly agile in attacking the quarterback.
Leger Douzable: The former Jaguar is on the team to back up at defensive tackle and defensive end. He'll play mostly at tackle.
Mike Martin: The third-round pick out of Michigan could be a starter by the end of the year.
Sen'Derrick Marks: He's failed to impress and is in the final year of his rookie contract.
Karl Klug: Klug led the team in sacks as a rookie. He'll play mostly in passing situations.
Shaun Smith: He was supposed to be the player that Casey was last year. Getting in shape should help him make the roster.
DaJohn Harris: The talented undrafted free agent out of USC is a project, but will find a way to make the final cut.
Colin McCarthy: It starts in the middle. McCarthy took over from Barrett Ruud midway through the season and never looked back. He's going to be a star.
Akeem Ayers: He started all 16 games last year and may play some defensive end on obvious passing downs.
Will Witherspoon: In the last year of his contract, Witherspoon's playing to show that he's worthy of sticking around after 2012.
Zach Brown: His explosive speed will get Brown on the field, if only in passing situations.
Tim Shaw: Special teams ace.
Patrick Bailey: Ditto.
Jason McCourty: He's taking over as the number one cornerback.
Alterraun Verner: He got behind McCourty last year but showed playmaking ability as a rookie starter.
Chris Hawkins: He was the team's third cornerback the one week that McCourty was injured in 2011. He's most likely to take that role this year.
Tommie Campbell: He made all of his contributions on special teams, including scoring a touchdown on a kickoff return reverse.
Coty Sensabaugh: The fourth-round rookie out of Clemson will play special teams but may not get on the field as a cornerback.
Michael Griffin: He got the Franchise Tag and will play his one-year deal hoping for a giant extension next offseason.
Jordan Babineaux: He went from released by the Seahawks to the starting strong safety by the end of 2011.
Markelle Martin: The sixth-round rookie out of Oklahoma State can pick up the defense and back up both positions if necessary.
Notable Cuts/Practice Squad/Bold Predictions
FB Quinn Johnson: The fans have been used to Ahmard Hall running out of the tunnel with the American flag since he was an active Marine. Collin Mooney's taking the flag this year.
LB Gerald McRath: Akeem Ayers took the strongside spot that McRath was slated to take when he was drafted.
CB Ryan Mouton: The 2009 third-round pick isn't going to overcome any of the younger players who got experience last year when he missed the season due to injury.
Practice Squad: Pannel Egboh (DE), Robert Johnson (S), William Vlachos (C), Bryon Stingily (OT), James Kirkendoll (WR), Chase Deadder (WR), Ryan Durand (G), Zach Clayton (DT)
The Titans pick up a veteran to push Leroy Harris at guard, which knocks Kevin Matthews off the roster.
The Titans also add a veteran safety to back up Michael Griffin/Jordan Babineaux. Shaun Smith loses his roster spot.
Taylor Thompson plays well enough that Daniel Graham doesn't finish the season on the roster.
Matt Hasselbeck is the opening day starter. Jake Locker starts in Week 16 when the team's playing for a spot in the playoffs.
Kendall Wright is in the starting lineup for the second half of the season.