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The final buzzer has sounded on the preseason action for the Tennessee Titans. Now the coaching staff and front office have some tough decision to make. Tennessee has to cut the roster from 91 to 53 before Tuesday, August 29th. Titans GM Ran Carthon has done well with the talent that he has added, but that has made this process even more difficult.
Regardless of difficulty, the Titans will have to choose the best 53 players to start the season. Here is who I feel have set themselves apart.
Ryan Tannehill, Malik Willis, Will Levis
The Titans will be hard pressed not to carry three quarterbacks on the roster this year. Ryan Tannehill is the starter and Malik Willis has earned the backup spot outright. Levis, a 2nd round pick in this year’s draft, has promise but will be relegated to the third spot on the depth chart this year.
Running Back (3)
Derrick Henry, Tyjae Spears, Julius Chestnut
This may be the easiest decision of any of the positions on the roster. Tyjae Spears has all but locked up the RB2 spot, showing good burst and versatility. Julius Chestnut has also wowed and has done enough to earn a spot on the 53 man roster.
Offensive Line (10)
Andre Dillard, Daniel Brunskill, Peter Skoronski, Aaron Brewer, Chris Hubbard, Jordan Roos, Andrew Rupcich, Justin Murray, Jaelyn Duncan, Nicholas Petit-Frere
I don’t think there is a scenario where Tennessee doesn’t carry at least eight offensive linemen. I have them keeping 10, and with Nicholas Petit-Frere being out until Week 7, they will need to assure that the right tackle spot is solid. Hubbard, Duncan and Rupcich have all put up good tape and have the possibility to play inside as well.
Daniel Brunskill left Friday’s game with a knee injury so they may need one of them to fill in until he is able to return to action.
Tight End (4)
Chig Okonkwo, Trevon Wesco, Josh Whyle, Thomas Odukoya
Tight End should be pretty easy to sift through. Okonkwo, Wesco, and Whyle are most likely locks to make the roster.
Thomas Odukoya will make the roster based off his talent as a blocker alone. Vrabel and the staff seem to like what they have seen from him in the preseason. His blocking is A+ and he could grow as a passer catcher – that is enough to make the Titans keep four tight ends.
Wide Receiver (6)
DeAndre Hopkins, Treylon Burks, Kyle Phillips, Chris Moore, Nicholas Westbrook-Ikhine, Kearis Jackson
Maybe the most difficult position for Tennessee is wide receiver. After adding DeAndre Hopkins in the offseason, guys who would’ve been locks became expendable. Treylon Burks, Kenny Phillips and Chris Moore project to be locks. I only see Tennessee keeping six receivers this year and those two spots were tough to decide on. Nicholas Westbrook-Ikhine makes it on familiarity and just being more proven than other options. I think Kearis Jackson showed good versatility and really flashed in limited offensive snaps – he rounds out the last spot on the depth chart.
Azeez Al-Shaair, Jack Gibbons, Chance Campbell, Ben Niemann, Luke Gifford
The linebacker position outside of new addition Azeez Al-Shaair was a big question coming into the preseason. With the absence of projected starter Monty Rice, Jack Gibbons has solidified himself as the second starter in Bruce Bowen’s defense. Campbell and Niemann have both proven to be solid tacklers and good depth linebackers. Luke Gifford could make the roster as a special teams ace with Hassan Haskins possibly being cut.
Edge Rusher (4)
Harold Landry, Arden Key, Rashad Weaver, Caleb Murphy
Landry, Key, and Weaver are all locks on the Titans roster.
Caleb Murphy has made an impression on the staff and front office and will be the fourth pass rusher on the depth chart. His eight tackles, four tackles for loss, four sacks and four QB hits have all been impactful. Murphy leads the team and the league in preseason sacks.
Defensive Line (6)
Jeffrey Simmons, Denico Autry, Teair Tart, Jayden Peevy, Kyle Peko, Michael Dwunfour
I don’t think there was ever a question that the Titans would keep Simmons, Autry and Tart on the roster. The other three spots behind them have all made impacts since being added, and could be kept.
Peevy was an undrafted free agent last season and has made leaps in his development this offseason. He has earned the respect of Assistant Head Coach/DL Coach Terrell Williams who said, “I’ve seen the foot quickness. I’ve seen the use of his hands, the pad level, all of those things have improved. From where he was last year in training camp…”
Kyle Peko and Michael Dwumfour were both added midway through the offseason but gave both made impacts since. Dwumfour has been a star over the last two weeks of preseason play and could be a valuable piece for Tennessee. Unfortunately the odd man out here is Naquan Jones, whom many felt could’ve made the team.
Kristian Fulton, Sean Murphy-Bunting, Rodger McCreary, Eric Garror, Tre Avery, Caleb Farley, *Anthony Kendall
Outside of the obvious locks, Eric Garror and Tre Avery have both had strong camps and showings in preseason play. The Titans will need depth at the corner position and finding gems in the UDFA market has helped with that.
*Former 1st Round Pick Caleb Farley could start on the injured reserve list as he is still recovering from back surgery. Anthony Kendall is a long athlete that has good man coverage skills as could be called to fill the roster spot.*
Kevin Byard, Amani Hooker, Elijah Molden, Armani Marsh
Tennessee has three locks at safety this season in Byard, Hooker and third year man Elijah Molden.
Armani Marsh, who has played at both cornerback and safety, is another versatile piece that could make the roster. Being endorsed by Kevin Byard doesn’t hurt his chances and he has played well when on the field. He slots more as a safety but could also fill in as a corner in big nickel packages as well.
Special Teams (3)
Morgan Cox, Ryan Stonehouse, Michael Badgley
Morgan Cox and Ryan Stonehouse are cemented on the Titans roster as special teamers.
Tennessee added Michael Badgley after cutting Trey Wolfe and Caleb Shudak after week two of the preseason. Badgley hasn’t had the best showing but is the only kicker on the roster right now. The Titans could still look to add a more consistent option prior to week one against the New Orleans Saints.
Practice Squad (10)
Kevin Rader, Colton Dowell, Tre’Shaun Harrison, Reggie Roberson, Mason Kinsey, Otis Reese, Tyler Shelvin, Steven Jones, Josh Thompson, Matthew Jackson, Anthony Kendall
The Titans will have some tough decision but the practice squad will most definitely have some gems they can develop.
Tre’Shaun Harrison, Colton Dowell and Reggie Roberson all have had good camps but haven’t quite done enough to secure spots on the roster.
Josh Thompson, Steven Jones and Anthony Kendall all are good versatile defensive backs and can be developed into solid contributors.
Otis Reese has had a good camp and should have a chance to be called up during the season. His coverage ability is valuable and he is always around the ball in the run game.
Final rosters have to be in by August 29th. This Tennessee Titans team could have some very young impact players and new faces on it come week one of the regular season.