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Tennessee Titans 53-man roster and analysis

As we’ve been tracking the past two days, the Tennessee Titans today made the required cuts to get the roster down from 80 to 53.  This isn’t the final roster that will open the season next Sunday agianst the Jacksonville Jaguars, but I wouldn’t expect more than 2 or 3 changes.

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?