Titans Down to 53 Players: A Position-by-Position Look


NASHVILLE, Tenn. —The Titans trimmed their roster to 53 players on Friday.

The players released included running back Bishop Sankey, receiver Justin Hunter, running back Dexter McCluster, fullback Sam Bergen, offensive lineman Jeremiah Poutasi, offensive lineman Will Poehls, receiver Andrew Turzilli, linebacker J.R. Tavai, linebacker Curtis Grant, cornerback B.W. Webb, defensive back Marqueston Huff, kicker Aldrick Rosas, running back David Fluellen, offensive lineman Tyler Marz, offensive lineman Ronald Patrick, receiver Ben Roberts, tight end Jerome Cunningham, tight end Alex Ellis, linebacker Justin Staples, nose tackle Antwaun Woods, cornerback Kalan Reed and defensive back Curtis Riley.

A quick look at the numbers reveals the team kept three quarterbacks and six receivers, but just three tight ends and eight offensive linemen. Clearly, players were rewarded for strong training camps, and in some cases, their ability to help on special teams.

Changes, of course, could still come before the Titans face the Minnesota Vikings on September 11. Keep in mind the Titans have the No.1 spot on the waiver wire.

But for now, here's a look at where the team stands numbers-wise at each position, and a quick analysis….

Quarterbacks (3): Marcus Mariota, Matt Cassel, Alex Tanney.

Comment: Mariota looks ready for the regular season. He completed 23-of-31 passes for 357 yards in three preseason games. His completion percentage (75.5%) and passer rating (104.1) topped those marks from his rookie season. Yes, Mariota looks ready to roll. The Titans like what the veteran Cassel has brought to the team, while Tanney completed 75 percent of his passes during the preseason.

Running backs (4): DeMarco Murray, Derrick Henry, Antonio Andrews, Jalston Fowler (FB).

Comment: Murray and Henry will provide the one-two punch in the running game, and the preseason provided plenty of reasons to be optimistic here. Murray averaged 8.1 yards per carry, while Henry finished 2nd in the NFL in the preseason with 216 yards and three touchdowns. The Titans elected to part with McCluster and Sankey, but kept Andrews, who fits the bruising running style the team is looking for at the position. Fowler is healthy, and should make a bigger impact in 2016.

Receivers (6): Rishard Matthews, Tajae Sharpe, Kendall Wright, Harry Douglas, Andre Johnson, Tre McBride.

Comment: Matthews and Sharpe are set to be the team's starters here, and the team will have to wait for Wright to get healthy, and help. Harry Douglas stepped up with a big training camp, and filled in well in the slot with Wright injured. The Titans limited Johnson's work in the preseason, but he's looked good and is in a position to contribute. McBride made plays all offseason, and he was rewarded for it with a spot on the 53. The Titans parted ways with Hunter not long after trading Dorial Green-Beckham.

Tight ends (3): Delanie Walker, Anthony Fasano, Phillip Supernaw.

Comment: Walker is coming off a Pro Bowl season, and he leads a group that's low in numbers compared to last season, when the Titans kept five tight ends on the initial 53. Fasano had another solid camp, and Supernaw brings a rugged style of play to the position. The retirement of Craig Stevens complicated things here leading up to roster decisions. Keep an eye on the tight end position for potential roster claims.

Offensive line (8): LT Taylor Lewan, LG Quinton Spain, C Ben Jones, RG Chance Warmack, RT Jack Conklin, C/G Brian Schwenke, G Sebastian Tretola, G/T Dennis Kelly.

Comment: The Titans finalized their starting five last week, and feel good about the group. Lewan had a really solid offseason, and Conklin made fast progress. Jones brought leadership to the unit, Spain answered his coach's challenge and Warmack showed consistency. Schwenke's versatility makes him valuable, and the Titans love Tretola's toughness. The Titans acquired Kelly in the trade for Green-Beckham, and his presence put Jeremiah Poutasi in a tough spot.

Defensive line (7):DL Jurrell Casey, NT Al Woods, DL DaQuan Jones, DE Angelo Blackson, DL Austin Johnson, DL Karl Klug, DL Mehdi Abdesmad.

Comment: The Titans have good numbers, and good players, here. Casey was especially disruptive during the preseason, and he should benefit from the talent around him. Jones has vastly improved, and so has Blackson. Abdesmad, a 6-6, 284-pounder who was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Boston College, stood out in the preseason finale on Thursday night, solidifying his spot.

Linebackers (9): David Bass, Kevin Dodd, Derrick Morgan, Brian Orakpo, Nate Palmer, Sean Spence, Aaron Wallace, Avery Williamson and Wesley Woodyard.

Comment: The starting group from the start of last year returns in Orakpo, Woodyard, Williamson and Morgan. Now, the Titans just need them to stay healthy. Bass had a really nice offseason. Dodd remains in catch-up mode, but the team is optimistic about his chances of making an impact this fall. Wallace missed a good chunk of time during training camp with an ankle injury, but he showed enough to earn a spot.

Secondary (10): CB Jason McCourty, CB Perrish Cox, S Da'Norris Searcy, S Rashad Johnson, CB Brice McCain, CB Antwon Blake, CB Cody Riggs, CB LeShaun Sims, S Kevin Byard, S Daimion Stafford.

Comment: Cox's return to action sets the team up in the secondary. He'll play on the outside opposite McCourty, with Searcy and Johnson at the safety spots. McCain is expected to work in the slot, his most comfortable position. Stafford pushed Searcy during camp, and Byard's been good from the get-go – he had two picks in the preseason. The Titans rewarded Riggs and Simms with spots on the 53 while parting ways with Huff and Reed.

Specialists (3):  K Ryan Succop, P Brett Kern, LS Beau Brinkley.

Comment: The Titans are set here. All three return from a year ago, and they're coming off solid seasons. The big question comes in the return game, where the team must find a replacement for McCluster.

The Titans close out the 2016 preseason against the Dolphins in Miami. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)

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