The Tennessee Titans conclude the regular season tonight at LP Field with a game against the New Orleans Saints.
Mike Munchak indicated that both the offense and defensive first-team will play at least some snaps this week, with Jake Locker and the rest of the offense playing more than the defense. Locker got 37 snaps last week; I’d expect him to get more like 25 this week and possibly not that many.
Interesting though Locker’s play will be, the game is biggest for the players who may still be on the roster bubble the day before the 53-man cutdown. Most of the roster jobs are locked up, but here are a couple spots where jobs may be won or lost:
- Return man. I just wrote in the special teams analysis that I expect Darius Reynaud to be the man on both punt and kickoff returns. If he has more trouble catching the ball like he did last week, that may change. D.J. Woods, whom I don’t expect to be on the team in a couple days go the work Reynaud (and Marc Mariani) didn’t against the Cardinals. Whose job is it if Reynaud gets hurt or falters?
- Depth receiver. Mariani was flashing as a receiver this preseason. Without him and with a likely suspension for Kenny Britt, there’s probably a job out there. Given the offensive complexity, I think the Titans would prefer to give that job to one of the receivers they know rather than bring in a veteran who may have difficulty contributing immediately. I’ve been high on Michael Preston, but he hasn’t had the production in games. He, Woods, and James Kirkendoll will probably get another chance at playing this week. Can they make Mike Munchak’s job harder?
- Defensive line. This was the hardest position for me when I filled out my 53-man roster prediction. Leger Douzable, whom I put on the roster bubble looking out, will not play, nor will Jurrell Casey and Sen’Derrick Marks. That means more snaps for guys like Zach Clayton, Malcom Sheppard, and Scott Solomon.
- Defensive back depth. Chris Hawkins, Ryan Mouton, and (Al Afalava XOR Aaron Francisco). Two spots in my estimation. Who gets them? I have the idea they may go with six corners and three safeties. Francisco’s special teams play, in particular, may change that equation, but are they comfortable enough with him on defense? Does Afalava have a role, or will Robert Johnson be the guy Jerry Gray was looking for in the Ruby defense?
- No injuries. This would be one way for a job to open up. I left it off of last week’s preview, and Marc Mariani got hurt. Four players on Injured Reserve, three of them returning contributors, is more than enough for this stage of the season.
I won’t get a chance to watch the game until NFL Network’s re-air Saturday morning, after the deadline for the cutdown to 53, so I’m not sure what or how much I’ll write on how the game goes. For some reason, I can’t get real excited about watching and re-watching players who’ve already been cut. We will of course be bringing you analysis of the roster cuts to get down to 53 plus additional season preview-type coverage.