QB: Matt Hasselbeck, Jake Locker, Rusty Smith
RB: Jamie Harper, Quinn Johnson (FB), Javon Ringer
WR: Kenny Britt, Lavelle Hawkins, Marc Mariani, Nate Washington, Damian Williams
TE: Jared Cook, Daniel Graham, Craig Stevens
OL: Eugene Amano, Leroy Harris, Troy Kropog, Kevin Matthews, Mike Otto, Michael Roos, Jake Scott, David Stewart, Byron Stingily, Fernando Velasco
DL: Dave Ball, Jurrell Casey, Zach Clayton, William Hayes, Jason Jones, Karl Klug, SenDerrick Marks, Derrick Morgan, Malcolm Sheppard, Shaun Smith
LB: Akeem Ayers, Patrick Bailey, Colin McCarthy, Gerald McRath, Barrett Ruud, Tim Shaw, Will Witherspoon
CB: Tommie Campbell, Cortland Finnegan, Chris Hawkins, Jason McCourty, Alterraun Verner
S: Jordan Babineaux, Michael Griffin, Chris Hope, Anthony Smith
ST: Ken Amato, Rob Bironas, Brett Kern
Analysis of each position group, after the jump...
QB: I must say, I'm surprised they kept Rusty Smith given that keeping him up on gameday now requires keeping another player down. He's not the present, as that's Hasselbeck. He's not the future, as that's Locker. I have some mild injury concerns about Hasselbeck, but I'm not sure Rusty wouldn't be available on the street or on the practice squad. With a short term injury, I'd have been fine even with Ratliff as a backup.
RB: Obviously CJ will be added to the roster. Andrew covered Ahmard Hall's suspension earlier tonight. I thought the Titans should have looked for an upgrade on Hall this offseason, but he's been a team captain and offers, it seems, some locker room leadership.
WR: Britt's injuries bother me. I don't like having to start Damian Williams or possibly even Lavelle Hawkins. Had Kevin Curtis not gotten injured, I think he makes the team, or at least I hope he makes the team. Justin Gage would have provided some much-indeed experience, but he's not a great fit for the new offensive system. I've thought since training camp opened this might be a position the Titans look at improving off the waiver wire. If they do add somebody, I'd expect them to be an addition to the five they have, not a straight-up switch.
TE: The obvious trio.
OL: Ten players, which is two more than they've kept in the past. I've said before I don't think Kevin Matthews has an NFL future, but this wouldn't be the first time the Titans wasted time on a project kid of somebody the coach really liked. I think they got caught in the same trap they got caught in with the defensive line in 2009, where they decided to keep an extra player or two at the position because a player they let go would very likely be picked up by another team.
DL: Ten players again. I'm not a huge fan of that, especially with only four official defensive linemen (Ball, Hayes, Jones, Morgan) and two of those (Jones, Morgan) injured. Sheppard has played defensive end in the preseason, and I'd expect him to play there. Can they get by with a DE rotation of Ball, Hayes, Jones, and Sheppard for a few weeks? I guess, even if the only guy I like as a pass rusher in that situation is Ball and he's better as a complementary player. Jacob Ford's injury against the Saints probably cost him a spot.
LB: The seven players I expected. Rennie Curran will probably find a job in the league, but there just wasn't a spot for him on the Titans with the defensive scheme change.
CB: Youth and inexperience? Apparently not a problem. Campbell making the team isn't a huge shock, but I'm not sure if anybody had Chris Hawkins making the team. I wasn't quite as confident as Andrew that Frank Walker would make the team, but going into the season with no experience beyond the top three defenders in nickel is an awfully risky move. If you doubt that, just think back to early 2009 when Mouton and McCourty were forced into the lineup by injury with disastrous results.
S: These were the four players I expected at the end, though I thought there was a chance Vinny Fuller would steal a spot because of his nickel experience. After Anthony Smith's previous NFL experience, I have absolutely no confidence he'll provide anything other than a veteran presence.
ST: The obvious trio.
One of these players will have to be cut when CJ is added back to the roster. As indicated above, Kevin Matthews is the most obvious candidate in my eyes. Beyond that, Chris Hawkins and Rusty Smith are possibilities.
What do you think? Happy with the players the Titans kept? Anybody you're sad to see go?
I was really surprised by Chris Hawkins surviving and Walker not. Since his arrival, Walker worked with the second team defense every day in camp. Campbell and Ittersagen got the third team reps with Hawkins and Lewis on the fourth string. I'm not sure what Lewis did to all of a sudden go from the #7 or #8 to the #5, while Walker fell from #4 to #6 on a five-man group.
Was also a little surprised McQuistan was cut, and cut early. He showed me more in camp than either Durand or Matthews at guard, and had the ability to move over to tackle as well.
As for the Defence, there were a couple of surprises. The decision to cut Ford was the biggest. I know he didn't fit the mold of the new defensive system, but as a situational pass rusher, I still think Ford could have a role on this team. I guess his latest injury, combined with the emphasis on bigger DEs sealed his fate. Keeping Malcolm Sheppard was not something I would have predicted. I thought Pannel Egboh was ahead of him as a DE. Sheppard's roster spot might be in jeopardy - if there is a better free agent available.
There were no surprises among the LBs. Curran just didn't fit the system. He should get an opportunity somewhere else though. I still think he could eventually start for someone in this league.
As for DBs, only Chris Hawkins was a surprise. I must admit I didn't really notice him during pre-season - so I have no opinion on whether this was a good or bad decision. It is possible, though, that, like Sheppard, he may only hold that roster spot until a better free agent option is found. I feel about Fuller the same way I felt about Gage. The writing was on the wall. He was sat at the end of last season. He was running with the 3s this pre-season and their were better players - Babineaux, Smith and probably Johnson - ahead of him.
There were a few surprises. Here are my thoughts on the current 54 man roster, with respect to the Offence:
Keeping Rusty isn't a shocker. Now that every team can carry a 3rd QB as the 46th man on game day probably factored into the decision. Also, Hasselbeck's injury history along with Lockers' playing style, which relies in part on his abiity to run the ball, means that the Titans need to carry 3 QBs.
Cutting Gage makes sense. The writing was on the wall when he was barely targeted in pre-season. He also had 3 strikes aganst him - he's slow, he drops way too many balls and he was slated to make way too much money. The decision to keep Hawkins surprised me a bit, but at least he made a few plays in pre-season. His roster spot is not assured however. It is possible that Hawkins gets cut if the Titans find a better receiver on the open market this week. Even if he stays with the team, I think that the Titans will pick up another receiver. A guy like Donnie Avery would be a huge upgrade - and would easily be one of the Titans' top 4 receivers. The fact that Curtis was brought in late and would have made the team if healthy tells you everything you need to know about the Team's confidence in Hawkins.
The big surprise on offence is the fact the Titans kept 10 O-linemen. That isn't going to last. They are not going into the season with 5 backups on the o-line. One of these guys - probably Kropog - will be let go when CJ counts or when another WR is brought in.