NASHVILLE, Tenn. —The Titans trimmed their roster to 53 players on Saturday. The players released included receiver Hakeem Nicks, receiver Tre McBride, tackle Byron Stingily, guard Josue Matias, guard Will Poehls, receiver Jacoby Ford, receiver Rico Richardson, quarterback Alex Tanney and running back David Fluellen. The Titans also placed linebackers Zaviar Gooden, J.R. Tavai and Yawin Smallwood on Injured Reserve.
A quick look at the numbers reveals the team kept four receivers, and five tight ends. Clearly, players were rewarded for strong training camps, and in some cases, their ability to help on special teams.
A total of 10 rookies made the initial 53-man roster. Changes, of course, could still come before the Titans face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on September 13.
But for now, here's a look at where the team stands numbers-wise at each position, and an analysis….
Quarterbacks (3): Marcus Mariota, Zach Mettenberger, Charlie Whitehurst.
Comment: The Titans could have two of the best young quarterbacks in the league in Mariota and Mettenberger. Both players enjoyed solid preseasons. One thing they don't bring to the table is a lot of experience – Mettenberger started six games last season – so the Titans kept Whitehurst as a third quarterback. Whitehurst played well in relief a year ago as well. If the Titans stay healthy here, he won't play at all.
Running backs (5): Bishop Sankey, Antonio Andrews, Dexter McCluster, David Cobb, FB Jalston Fowler.
Comment: Sankey should get a big workload early in the season, with Andrews also in the mix. McCluster's quickness and ability to create mismatches will keep him in the mix as well. The injury to Cobb was a setback to the running game, and the team will have to be patient in his recovery process. Fowler adds versatility.
Receivers (4): Kendall Wright, Harry Douglas, Justin Hunter, Dorial Green-Beckham.
Comment: The Titans went light here, in part because of the versatility of players at other positions in McCluster and tight end Chase Coffman. Veteran Hakeem Nicks flashed during training camp, but he doesn't have the speed to get separation from defenders. If he'd made it, he likely would've been inactive on Sundays anyway. I'm thinking he probably wouldn't have liked that much. The Titans have two proven veterans in Wright and Douglas and two players with big potential in Hunter and Green-Beckham. None of the receivers plays special teams, which led to the team keeping more players at other positions.
Tight ends (5): Delanie Walker, Anthony Fasano, Craig Stevens, Chase Coffman, Phillip Supernaw.
Comment: A year after being ravaged by injuries here, the Titans went heavy, at least at the start. Walker, Fasano and Stevens were givens to make it, and the team rewarded Coffman and Supernaw for strong performances during training camp and the preseason, when they were No.1 and No.2 in catches. Those two guys earned the right to be on the initial 53-man roster.
Offensive line (8): LT Taylor Lewan, LG Byron Bell, C Brian Schwenke, RG Chance Warmack, RT Jeremiah Poutasi, C/G Andy Gallick, G Quinton Spain, RT Jamon Meredith.
Comment: The starting five came into focus on Friday, and a day later the team put its back-up plan in place. The Titans elected to keep Meredith over Byron Stingily, a 2011 draft pick, in part because he can play some guard. The Titans were especially pleased with Gallik's emergence as a guard in camp, which made him even more versatile. Spain is viewed as a more talented player compared to Poehls and Matias, and he can play some tackle as well.
Defensive line (8):Jurrell Casey, DaQuan Jones, Al Woods, Karl Klug, Angelo Blackson, Sammie Hill, Ropati Pitoitua, Mike Martin.
Comment: The Titans have numbers—and big bodies here. Casey is a top-notch performer, and Woods stood out in training camp after Hill was injured. The Titans are going to need to be patient with Hill. Blackson emerged during camp and solidified his roster spot as well. The defensive line might be one of the deepest on the team in talent, and it's clear the Titans didn't want to part ways with anyone in the group.
Linebackers (8): Derrick Morgan, Brian Orakpo, Zach Brown, Avery Williamson, Wesley Woodyard, Deiontrez Mount, Jonathan Massaquoi, Justin Staples.
Comment: Morgan and Orakpo give the Titans a talented tandem on the outside, with Brown and Williamson manning the middle. The Titans have experience in Woodyard inside, and Mount, a sixth-round pick, flashed in camp to earn his spot. The Titans would like to see further development from Massaquoi and Staples. This is an area where the team could be looking to upgrade on the waiver wire.
Secondary (9): CB Perrish Cox, CB Jason McCourty, CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson, S Michael Griffin, S Da'Norris Searcy, CB Coty Sensabaugh, CB Cody Riggs, S/CB Marqueston Huff, S Daimion Stafford.
Comment: The Titans kept five corners and four safeties, but Huff's versatile enough to do both. With McCourty still recovering from groin surgery, the team needed to protect itself here. Riggs earned his spot, and in the process became the first undrafted cornerback to make the initial 53-man roster in the Titans era.
Specialists (3): K Ryan Succop, P Brett Kern, LS Beau Brinkley.
Comment: The Titans extended all three of these players during the offseason, and feel good about things heading into the regular season. Earlier in the week, the Titans waived kicker Mike Meyer. McCluster will handle punt returns while Sankey and Andrews are in line to return kicks.
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