I made my first attempt at predicting the 53-man roster back in June. I did not do a new one when training camp opened, but did add additional thoughts on the composition of the 53-man. Now that the Titans have played two of their four preseason games, I am back for another try
Once again my dream of getting the entire eventual 53 with my first roster prediction has gone awry even at the midpoint of the preseason. I went out on several limbs there, and one of those, Nathan Enderle, was cruelly hacked off at the start of training camp. The Titans also parted ways with Robert Johnson over his lingering foot injury, a decision I understood even if I still do not get what they are doing at safety aside from planning on changing the defense if Michael Griffin gets hurt. Then again, they've gotten away without having a competent backup for Akeem Ayers the past two seasons without getting burned and Griffin has been healthy lately so maybe?
The previous roster prediction attempt was based more on trying to think through what the Titans might do. This one is based more on what the Titans brass have said in interviews and done in preseason games, albeit with an attempt to adjusted for things like "Pannel Egboh, third starter." Yes, this is more than an excuse to ignore what Jerry Gray says, or at least I tried to make it more than that.
After the jump, my thinking at each position and the final roster.
In: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jake Locker, Rusty Smith
Analysis: QB3 or not QB3? He's likely to be a gameday inactive so in a way Rusty Smith's presence does not particularly hurt the Titans when it comes to which players they dress on Sunday unless and until they run into injury problems.
In: Jackie Battle, Shonn Greene, Chris Johnson, Quinn Johnson (FB), Darius Reynaud
Out: Collin Mooney, Jalen Parmele
Analysis: Seeing the 5 next to RB bugs the heck out of me. I expect that if they remain healthy all year Greene, CJ, and the fullback will get at least 98% of all Titans handoffs in 2013. They went without an RB3 in 2010, but that's the sort of thing I'm just not comfortable predicting. I see Reynaud's spot as strictly a special teams one. This is one position I wouldn't really mind being wrong. I'll believe they'll cut Quinn Johnson when they actually cut Quinn Johnson.
In: Kenny Britt, Justin Hunter, Michael Preston, Nate Washington, Damian Williams, Kendall Wright
Out: Diondre Borel, Justin Hilton, Marc Mariani, Rashad Ross, Roberto Wallace, Kevin Walter (PUP), Dontel Watkins
Analysis: If I believed in judging draft picks in the middle of the first or second training camp, I'd have a long rant about Justin Hunter and Kendall Wright right about now. Fortunately, I do not, so I'll just note my vituperation and move on. Obviously with Nate Washington currently running with the starters, he's not going to get cut or even traded for a conditional 2020 seventh-round pick.
I have them keeping 6. That's the most likely number, but Dowell Loggains indicated in his most recent media session they could only keep 5. Between the basic Kenny Britt questions and Kendall Wright's current knee injury I don't see them going with only 5. Preston is the #6 and maybe his slot appearance in the second preseason game was because they wanted to see if he can be an option at all there. I like Preston a lot and advocated they add him to the roster in 2011, but I'd like to see him have a stronger showing in the last two preseason games than I think he had in the first two. Mariani's injury kills his chances for me, both for the returner job and pushing Preston for the #6 spot.
Tight end (3)
In: Craig Stevens, Taylor Thompson, Delanie Walker
Out: Brandon Barden, DeMarco Cosby, Jack Doyle, Martell Webb
Analysis: Walker's health was the big question for me. He's now off PUP and expected to play against Atlanta. If they have concerns about his availability for Pittsburgh, they could keep Doyle around and part with either Rusty Smith or Michael Preston. I thought about finding a spot for Doyle anyway, but then decided there was no real need to bother with it. Even if they play as much 2-TE as I think they might, they don't need more than three.
Offensive line (9)
In: Andy Levitre, Mike Otto, Michael Roos, Brian Schwenke, David Stewart, Byron Stingily, Rob Turner, Fernando Velasco, Chance Warmack
Out: Eloy Atkinson, Daniel Baldridge, Oscar Johnson, Barry Richardson, Chris Spencer, Kasey Studdard
Analysis: Chalk, unless they like Chris Spencer more than I think they do or should and/or choose to keep an extra body at the position. Since that player will almost never be active, I don't see a reason to do so. As I've noted before, I don't love Schwenke (the idea of him, anyway), Turner, or Velasco as a right guard backup if Warmack should go down, but there's not a better candidate than any of them on the 90.
Defensive end (5)
In: Lavar Edwards, Karl Klug, Derrick Morgan, Ropati Pitoitua, Kamerion Wimbley
Out: Keyunta Dawson, Nigel Nicholas
Analysis: Rejoice, Jerry Gray, you have your tweeners as both Edwards and Klug will kick inside in certain situations. I have no objection to the idea of cutting Wimbley and keeping Dawson instead. It wouldn't shock me to see Wimbley get some snaps at SLB for Akeem Ayers on Saturday, though, as what they were doing with Akeem the first two preseason games is basically the exact same thing Wimbley did in Oakland in 2011.
Defensive tackle (4)
In: Jurrell Casey, Sammie Lee Hill, Antonio Johnson, Mike Martin
Out: Stefan Charles, Zach Clayton, DaJohn Harris
Analysis: Zach Clayton has probably played the earliest (not including special teams) of anybody I have the Titans cutting, but I just don't see a spot for him. Maybe there's something I'm missing in him or Charles or Harris where they're willing to do what they did with Harris last year and carry him on the roster but not play him, but that has to be something I'm missing.
In: Akeem Ayers, Zach Brown, Moise Fokou, Zaviar Gooden, Colin McCarthy, Tim Shaw
Out: Kadarron Anderson, Patrick Bailey, Gary Guyton, Greg Jones, Scott Solomon, Jonathan Willard
Analysis: Especially because of the current spate of injuries, this is a position where my count could be off. Depending who is still out, my guess is Patrick Bailey is the #7 man on the list. The names I have I consider chalk.
In: Tommie Campbell, Jason McCourty, Coty Sensabaugh, Alterraun Verner, Blidi Wreh-Wilson
Out: George Baker, Khalid Wooten
Analysis: I haven't seen enough from Wreh-Wilson or Wooten (0 defensive snaps against CIN) to make me think they'll have a role early in the season. Given the likely need for four corners, that saves Campbell's roster spot.
In: Al Afalava, Michael Griffin, Bernard Pollard, George Wilson
Out: Corey Lynch, Markelle Martin, Daimion Stafford, Tracy Wilson
Analysis: I know, Lynch played more than Afalava did against the Bengals. I have to think that's just evaluating the new guy. The other three names are chalk and I have trouble seeing a role for the other players.
Special teams (3)
In: Beau Brinkley (LS), Rob Bironas (K), Brett Kern (P)
Out: Maikon Bonani
The final 53:
QB: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jake Locker, Rusty Smith
RB: Jackie Battle, Shonn Greene, Chris Johnson, Quinn Johnson (FB), Darius Reynaud
WR: Kenny Britt, Justin Hunter, Michael Preston, Nate Washington, Damian Williams, Kendall Wright
TE: Craig Stevens, Taylor Thompson, Delanie Walker
OL: Andy Levitre, Mike Otto, Michael Roos, Brian Schwenke, David Stewart, Byron Stingily, Rob Turner, Fernando Velasco, Chance Warmack
DE: Lavar Edwards, Karl Klug, Derrick Morgan, Ropati Pitoitua, Kamerion Wimbley
DT: Jurrell Casey, Sammie Lee Hill, Antonio Johnson, Mike Martin
LB: Akeem Ayers, Zach Brown, Moise Fokou, Zaviar Gooden, Colin McCarthy, Tim Shaw
CB: Tommie Campbell, Jason McCourty, Coty Sensabaugh, Alterraun Verner, Blidi Wreh-Wilson
S: Al Afalava, Michael Griffin, Bernard Pollard, George Wilson
ST: Beau Brinkley, Rob Bironas, Brett Kern
Players I picked who have the best chance of getting cut: Al Afalava, Jackie Battle, Michael Preston
Players I didn't pick who may have the best chance of making the team: Patrick Bailey, Corey Lynch, Khalid Wooten
Picked this time, not on my first prediction: Al Afalava, Jackie Battle, Tommie Campbell, Karl Klug, Michael Preston, Darius Reynaud, Rusty Smith, Nate Washington
Picked last time, not on this prediction: Keyunta Dawson, Nathan Enderle, Robert Johnson, Greg Jones, Marc Mariani, Jalen Parmele, Kevin Walter, Khalid Wooten
Eight changes is probably too many. That means I either did a bad job the first time around (very possible, considering the limbs I went out on), this time (overthinking things or overreading based on two games of preseason action), or both. If I get 50 right here, I'll be pretty satisfied. When I did this last year, I got 48, with two of my misses (Marc Mariani and Dave Ball) going in injured reserve. We'll see how well I did in just over a week.