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Titans 53-man roster prediction at mid-preseason

I did one of these at the start of training camp and now it’s time for me to take another look at what the Titans’ 53-man roster might look like.

After today’s unsurprising release of DT Shaun Smith, the Titans’ roster now stands at 88 players, though not the same 88 players when I did that earlier roster prediction. From that earlier call, C Eugene Amano and LB Gerald McRath are now on injured reserve. Thankfully, nobody I picked to make the team has yet been released. While the Titans’ unofficial depth chart is pretty much the same as it was at the start of training camp, keeping track of plalyer participation has given me a different view, which I’ll be incorporating into my roster prediction.

With that in mind, here’s my latest guess.

QB (3): Matt Hasselbeck, Jake Locker, Rusty Smith
Analysis: The same three as last time. I thought Rusty might be on the roster bubble if they needed a spot elsewhere, but given his command of the offense I think his spot is pretty safe.

RB/FB (5): Jamie Harper, Chris Johnson, Collin Mooney, Darius Reynaud, Javon Ringer
Analysis: I’m bowing to the inevitable here and picking Reynaud to make the team. I don’t know how this group and his role specifically will work on gameday’s 46 roster. Ringer’s a lock in my eyes given his situational role. I don’t think Harper’s been that bad a player and this group is invested in him, but am not sure what role he plays if CJ, Ringer, and Reynaud are there. Fullback came down in part to a numbers question. It was a fairly big part of the offense last year (about 27% of snaps), and I ultimately decided I couldn’t deal with watching Quinn Johnson play another season.

TE (3): Jared Cook, Craig Stevens, Taylor Thompson
Analysis: The three chalk. I tried to find a spot for Cameron Graham, but 1 snap at fullback the first preseason game wasn’t enough to sway me.

WR (5+1): Kenny Britt (suspended), Lavelle Hawkins, Marc Mariani, Nate Washington, Damian Williams, Kendall Wright
Analysis: While Britt seems to be recovering, I’m still awaiting a suspension. Reynaud prevents a bit of a potential threat to Mariani’s job, but I like the way he’s developed at receiver. I expect the Titans to go with five during Britt’s suspension; it’d be fairly easy, I think, to add somebody in case of injury.

OL (9): Leroy Harris, Steve Hutchinson, Troy Kropog, Kevin Matthews, Mike Otto, Michael Roos, David Stewart, Byron Stingily, Fernando Velasco
Analysis: Eight pretty chalky names, plus one surprise in Troy Kropog. If I were him, I wouldn’t get too used to having a roster spot, as he’s there solely because of Mike Otto’s injury and the need for depth at tackle. I considered Ryan Durand, given the absence of Eugene Amano’s effect on interior line depth, but expect him to be available.

DE (5): Dave Ball, Pannel Egboh, Derrick Morgan, Scott Solomon, Kamerion Wimbley
Analysis: Keyunta Dawson has been the RDE2 behind Wimbley, but I gave his spot to Ball instead. The Titans could easily choose to make the reverse decision. I think the emergence of Egboh, plus the numbers at defensive tackle, mean Leger Douzable’s road is too far. If I needed another space on defense, Solomon was gone.

DT (5): Jurrell Casey, Zach Clayton, Karl Klug, Sen’Derrick Marks, Mike Martin
Analysis: Smith is gone, not that him making the team was ever a real possibility in my mind. The question at the defensive line spot was whether they would keep a tweenter, like Douzable or Malcolm Sheppard, instead of keeping 10 at the position. They’ve kept 10 before, so this isn’t too outlandish, but I hate the idea.

LB (6): Akeem Ayers, Patrick Bailey, Zach Brown, Colin McCarthy, Tim Shaw, Will Witherspoon
Analysis: McRath going to injured reserve locks in Will Witherspoon’s spot, not that I really doubted it. The question here for me is whether Bailey’s injury means they keep another player at this position-most likely that’d be Zac Diles, but it could be a pure special teamer like Kevin Malast.

CB (5): Tommie Campbell, Jason McCourty, Ryan Mouton, Coty Sensabaugh, Alterraun Verner
Analysis: Hawkins or Mouton, Mouton or Hawkins? Verner’s your slot corner, but who’s the backup? If he goes down, you need somebody good and capable of stepping in. I don’t think Sensabaugh’s ready to be that guy, thus Mouton. The other names are chalk.

S (4+1): Al Afalava, Jordan Babineaux, Michael Griffin, Robert Johnson, Markelle Martin (PUP)
Analysis: I can’t see the Titans going into the season with only three safeties. With Martin still recovering from his pre-draft knee injury, it can’t be him, and I think the Titans leave him on PUP. That opens up the spot for Afalava, who seems to be at the top of the safety heap.

ST (3): Rob Bironas, Beau Brinkley, Brett Kern
Analysis: Chalk.

Players I picked who have the best chance of getting cut: Collin Mooney, Troy Kropog, Al Afalava
Players I didn’t pick who may have the best chance of making the team: Keyunta Dawson, Zac Diles, Chris Hawkins

Picked this time, not on my first prediction: Collin Mooney, Darius Reynaud, Troy Kropog, Pannel Egboh, Zach Clayton, Ryan Mouton, Al Afalava
Picked last time, not on this prediction: Quinn Johnson, Eugene Amano, Leger Douzable, Gerald McRath, Chris Hawkins, Aaron Francisco

If I have the chance, I’ll do one final updated prediction after the cutdown to 75 (deadline Monday afternoon).