The Tennessee Titans concluded their preseason with a 23-7 victory over the New England Patriots. The hay is officially in the barn. General manager Ran Carthon and head coach Mike Vrabel must now collaborate on finalizing their initial 53-man roster ahead of Tuesday’s deadline. All roster-bubble players received one final opportunity to convince the Titans brass they’re worth retaining.
Here’s my final 53-man roster projection:
Ryan Tannehill, Malik Willis, Will Levis (3)
Malik Willis flashed enough growth throughout the summer to force the Titans to carry three quarterbacks, which is something they’ve rarely done. Willis probably opens the regular-season campaign as Ryan Tannehill’s backup. A minor injury robbed rookie quarterback Will Levis of some crucial reps down the stretch of the preseason. Levis will continue developing behind the scenes.
Derrick Henry, Tyjae Spears, Julius Chestnut (3)
Tyjae Spears looked dynamic and is the change-of-pace choice behind Derrick Henry. Julius Chestnut earned a roster spot for a second consecutive campaign with an excellent showing throughout the preseason. Hassan Haskins was placed on season-ending IR.
DeAndre Hopkins, Treylon Burks, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, Kyle Philips, Chris Moore, Kearis Jackson (6)
The Titans have to keep Treylon Burks and Kyle Philips on the initial 53-man roster to avoid ending their season. Carthon can then consider placing them on IR, which would rule them out for a minimum of four games, and free up two additional spots. Burks’ and Philips’ early-season availability may be touch-and-go, and should force the Titans to keep six or seven receivers.
None of the back-end roster receivers did much to separate themselves through the preseason. Kearis Jackson has the edge in my opinion after catching a touchdown on Friday. I believe Jackson will be the team’s starting kick returner. Reggie Roberson Jr. and Mason Kinsey are in the mix as well. Colton Dowell and Tre’Shaun Harrison should be added to the practice squad if they fail to make the roster.
Chigoziem Okonkwo, Trevon Wesco, Josh Whyle (3)
Chigoziem Okonkwo should have an excellent sophomore season. Trevon Wesco is TE2. Rookie Josh Whyle experienced an up-and-down summer. Offseason award winner Thomas Odukoya is an outstanding blocker. I get a funny inkling that the Titans will stick with three tight ends for now.
Andre Dillard, Peter Skoronski, Aaron Brewer, Daniel Brunskill, Chris Hubbard, Corey Levin, Jaelyn Duncan, Justin Murray, Xavier Newman-Johnson, Dillon Radunz (10)
Suspended: Nicholas Petit-Frere
We received a surprise on Monday when Dillon Radunz was activated. Chris Hubbard is the starting right tackle and Justin Murray remain in contention. Corey Levin is Tennessee’s best reserve interior linemen. I’ve been very impressed with Xavier Newman-Johnson, who slightly edges out Andrew Rupcich and Jordan Roos for me. Jaelyn Duncan isn’t a shoe-in, but probably survives cut-down day. Nicholas Petit-Frere don’t count towards the 53.
TOTAL KEPT ON OFFENSE: 26
Jeffery Simmons, Denico Autry, Teair Tart, Jayden Peevy, Kyle Peko, Michael Dwumfour (6)
Jayden Peevy impressed throughout training camp, but rarely popped in the preseason. I believe he’s earned enough goodwill from Terrell Williams and Co. to stick. The Titans recently reunited with Kyle Peko, who I have slightly edging out Trevon Coley and Naquan Jones. I have the Titans keeping six defensive linemen since Autry spends plenty of time outside.
Harold Landry, Arden Key, Rashad Weaver, Caleb Murphy (4)
Denico Autry’s versatility allows them to go a little lighter here. Undrafted free agent Caleb Murphy has been the most impressive backend depth contender after leading the team in sacks throughout the preseason. Thomas Rush and Sam Okuayinonu would be strong additions to the practice squad.
Azeez Al-Shaair, Jack Gibbens, Chance Campbell, Luke Gifford, Monty Rice (5)
Monty Rice returned to practice on Monday. I have Rice slightly edging out Ben Niemann. Luke Gifford is a special teams ace. Chance Campbell earns a spot after impressing throughout the preseason.Azeez Al-Shaair and Jack Gibbens are your starters. Otis Reese would be in play for the practice squad.
Kristian Fulton, Sean Murphy-Bunting, Roger McCreary, Tre Avery, Eric Garror (5)
Physically Unable to Perform: Caleb Farley
Kristian Fulton, Roger McCreary and Sean Murphy-Bunting will be the team’s top three cornerbacks. Caleb Farley is dealing with an awful tragedy and could remain on the PUP. Tre Avery has taken steps forward as a sophomore. Eric Garror has been their most impressive undrafted free-agent defensive back and could even open the season as the starting punt returner.
Kevin Byard, Amani Hooker, Elijah Molden, Mike Brown, Shyheim Carter (5)
Elijah Molden is a do-it-all defensive back with an undefined role, which allowed me to keep five cornerbacks instead of six. Mike Brown and Shyheim Carter have really impressed throughout training camp and the preseason. There’s roles for both of them, especially when considering special teams.
TOTAL KEPT ON DEFENSE: 24
Somebody that’s not on the team (K), Ryan Stonehouse (P), Morgan Cox (LS)
The Titans don’t have a kicker on the roster after waiving three of them within seven days. It’s worth monitoring if Nick Folk becomes available. Cade York is also an intriguing name. Ryan Stonehouse established himself as one of the league’s best punters as a rookie. Morgan Cox returns as an elite long snapper.