Titans 53-man roster projection after first preseason game

The Titans officially had their first preseason game of 2021. Not only did they win, they were able to showcase a lot of quality depth, something they have struggled to have on the roster for a while. There were some surprising movements involving the depth chart, and snap counts. We got a good idea where some of these guys rank among the Titans staff.

The league’s cut schedule is as follows:

  • Cut from 90 to 85: August 17th
  • Cut from 85 to 80: August 24th
  • Cut from 80 to 53: August 31st

You can find the previous 53-man roster projection by clicking here.

Quarterbacks (2)

  • Ryan Tannehill
  • Logan Woodside

Third wheel: Matt Barkley

Since Ryan Tannehill didn’t play in the preseason opener, it was time to see Logan Woodside and Matt Barkley battle it out. Logan Woodside walked away with this one easily. Mostly everyone agrees with this but there are some detractors so let’s just break it down.

It’s Woodside’s job to lose, not to win. That’s a pretty big part of the battle no one is talking about, because people believe this is some sort of even fight. Woodside proved that even with a very shaky offensive line, he can make plays on the run and hit his targets even with pressure mounting.

It wasn’t perfect for Woodside — there were times he should’ve thrown the ball away — but you saw what you needed to see from your QB2. Barkley was fine, but he played against a worse version of the defense that Woodside saw, and to be honest, for a guy who has been in the league since 2013, it wasn’t anything that impressive.

Vrabel mentioned in his press conference that the playbook Barkley can run is limited. That makes sense, he’s been in Nashville less than two weeks. But another aspect where Woodside has a huge leg up is in his deep knowledge of the offensive system.

Running Backs (3)

  • Derrick Henry
  • Darrynton Evans
  • Khari Blasingame

Looked great but is going to be on the Practice Squad: Mehki Sargent

More to prove: Brian Hill, Tory Carter

Time to say good bye: Jeremy McNichols

Darrynton Evans looked fantastic up until he suffered some sort of injury. It was initially reported as a knee injury, but most people believe it could be a hamstring of some sort. It sounds like it will be minor, and Vrabel said he is day to day. That’s great news, because he looked like a player who could start at running back for most teams. Evans ended the night with 6.5 yards per carry.

Seems like Brian Hill got the short end of the stick against his former team. Last year, he showed he can fill in admirably for a short period of time, but last night something seemed off when he was in the game. He was outdone by an undrafted free agent in Mehki Sargent.

Sargent flashed a lot and was the talk of many fans online. He has a chance to stick on this team because he was involved in special teams, even garnering a tackle, but more than likely he will serve his time on the practice squad. Both Sargent and Hill ended up with 3.6 yards per carry.

It’s time to say goodbye to Jeremy “McWeapon” McNichols. He looked slow and indecisive with his touches and ultimately wasn’t nearly as effective as Evans or Sargent. It was a good story for a while, but I think we can safely say the other running backs are just better.

Wide Receiver (6)

  • A.J. Brown
  • Julio Jones
  • Josh Reynolds
  • Chester Rogers
  • Nick Westbrook-Ikhine
  • Marcus Johnson

Needs to keep the momentum going: Mason Kinsey

Needs to flash: Racey McMath

On the brink of being cut: Dez Fitzpatrick

Cut:

  • Cameron Batson
  • Cody Hollister – IR
  • Fred Brown

How the wide receiver snaps shook out in the first preseason game was probably the most interesting storyline. There are still two preseason games to come, but if cuts were today, I am not sure expensive fourth-round pick Dez Fitzpatrick makes it.

Even when Fitzpatrick found himself on the field – which wasn’t until the second half, behind eight other Titans receivers – he did nothing to even merit one target. Fellow draft pick Racey McMath didn’t fare much better, as he walked away with zero catches on two targets (one against a heavy blitz, the other deep down the right sideline). Fitzpatrick desperately needs to up his game this week and show why the team believed in him enough to package draft picks and move up to get him.

McMath has flashed in training camp but was wholly unimpressive in his first game action. In fact, his effort as a gunner was actually a hinderance. The most memorable play from him last night was whiffing on a pretty easy special teams tackle. Marcus Johnson was also in as a gunner on a special teams play, so McMath needs to watch his back.

Speaking of Johnson, he got the start and, well, did nothing with it. He is another wide receiver who saw zero targets come his way. This could’ve been more to do with the fact that the offensive line gave Woodside little time to find players like Johnson on the outside, but a guy like him needs to make an impression over the next two games and not just show up at practice.

It’s not all doom and gloom (well, depending on your outlook); a second-year guy showed up. Mason Kinsey looked really good and looked like a guy who could make a spot for himself on this team. Turron Davenport said last week that he may be the best pure slot option for the Titans, and I think TD is spot on.

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine got a lot of snaps, but did very little with it, which seemed to be the theme for WRs, but his ability to play on special teams and his knowledge of the playbook will allow him to stick around.

The real story was Chester Rogers. Rogers is making this team. Write it in permanent marker. Not only did he make a nice catch for 17-yards, he looked amazing as a punt returner. He had return for 14 yards and another that he took for 57 yards nearly to the end zone.

Cam Batson, Cody Hollister, and Fred Brown are all likely gone. I understand Batson scored an impressive touchdown, but he needs to do more, and he didn’t show that on special teams duty. I foresee another underdog story ending up on the practice squad.

Tight End (4)

  • Anthony Firkser
  • Geoff Swaim
  • Tommy Hudson
  • Luke Stocker

Hmm, maybe there’s something there: Miller Forristall, Jared Pinkney

Out: Gabe Holmes

Nothing much to report. Out of the starters, I think Tommy Hudson can easily fall off the depth chart behind Forristall and Pinkney if they continue their momentum. Luke Stocker did the most I felt like, he played early as a run blocker, and I think he has a legit shot at making this team, which also will hurt Hudson’s chances depending on how many they decide to keep.

Offensive Line (9)

  • Taylor Lewan
  • Rodger Saffold
  • Ben Jones
  • Nate Davis
  • Kendall Lamm
  • Dillon Radunz
  • Ty Sambrailo
  • Aaron Brewer – NFI list
  • David Quessenberry

They gone:

  • Christian DiLauro
  • Chandon Herring
  • Daniel Munyer
  • Paul Adams
  • Brent Qvale
  • Cole Banwart
  • Ross Reynolds
  • Jordan Roos

After last night, I think you are going to see a lot of turnover at the bottom of the roster. The offensive line was horrendous. They didn’t seem to have any sort of chemistry, and a lot of the bad reports coming from training camp showed up on the field in a game situation (hello, botched QB-center exchange).

This list will largely remain unchanged from Mike’s previous list, but depending on Brewer’s injury severity, one person may make it from the bottom to top, but it will be short lived.

Defensive Line (5)

  • Jeffery Simmons
  • Denico Autry
  • Teair Tart
  • Larrell Murchison
  • Kyle Peko

Has Momentum: Woodrow Hamilton IV

Injured: Trevon Coley

Fighting for their spot: Anthony Rush, Naquan Jones

The defensive line lived up to the hype even without starters Autry and Simmons. I think this is pretty much a done deal with Peko grabbing that last spot, but I think Hamilton showed that he’s not going away quietly.

Coley’s injury is unfortunate, as he flashed a few times on Friday before being carted off. Coley is set to see noted foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson on Monday, and the report is the Titans fear it is a season-ending injury.

I feel pretty confident in the Titans’ top four defensive line rotation going forward and think whoever the fifth guy is, this line won’t miss a beat in terms of generating pressure.

Outside Linebacker (5)

  • Bud Dupree
  • Harold Landry
  • Rashad Weaver
  • Wyatt Ray
  • Ola Odeniyi

Hanging on by a thread: John Simon, Derick Roberson

What a difference one game can make. After watching this game and the performances from Weaver, Ray and Odeniyi, I feel much better about the outside linebacker depth.

Granted it was only a preseason game, but this is what one wants to see from the team: utterly dominating the opponent. Much like the defensive line’s performance, fans and media needed to see this. We all probably deserved to see this after last year.

A tougher test lies ahead for these guys in the coming week, but if this group can put together another promising performance versus the defending champs, no reason not to feel excited for the turnaround.

Weaver looked amazing. He had 2 tackles-for-loss and 1.5 sacks. However, I think the best part about his performance last night were the comments to the media afterwards, which you can see in TD’s tweet included here.

Ray also tallied 1.5 sacks, and then Odeniyi got one on the board as well. I think this is a small victory that fans should enjoy in the moment, but also recognize this is a building block for future performances. Work isn’t over yet for this position.

Inside Linebacker (4)

  • Rashaan Evans
  • Jayon Brown
  • David Long
  • Monty Rice

If they keep five: Justin March-Lillard

Injured: B.J. Bello

The Jan Brady of ILBs: Jan Johnson

David Long had a spectacular night. Getting an interception was one part of it, but the other part was his usage. He was used on third-down plays twice when the majority of the starting defense was on the field. He was out there with Jayon Brown, who looked more comfortable last night.

A third-down defense with both Long and Brown on the field is an exciting thing to think about, and let’s all hope that it continues going forward.

Out of the back-end linebackers, Justin March-Lillard and Monty Rice were both active. March-Lillard has a lot of momentum on his side heading into Preseason Week 2, while Monty Rice still has more to prove, but I think he showed enough to secure the fourth spot for now.

Cornerback (6)

  • Jackrabbit Jenkins
  • Caleb Farley
  • Kristian Fulton
  • Breon Borders
  • Chris Jackson
  • Elijah Molden

The Other Guys: Briean Boddy-Calhoun, Kevin Peterson, Maurice Smith, Chris Jones

Nothing to report here. Neither Farley nor Molden played. Breon Borders stood out a lot on the field, and had an almost interception to add to the stat sheet. Kristian Fulton was also quite active with sticky coverage and a nice third-down pass break-up. I think this is a pretty easy position group to sort out; the only thing to keep an eye on is the Molden injury.

Safety (4)

  • Kevin Byard
  • Amani Hooker
  • Matthias Farley
  • Tedric Thompson

Danger zone: Dane Cruikshank

Injured: Brady Breeze

Just a Guy: Reggie Floyd

Brady Breeze seemed like he was on his way up the depth chart, and was going to make this team, but injury struck last night. Not sure how long at the moment of this writing that he will be kept out. With the Breeze injury this gives someone like the recently signed Tedric Thompson a chance to make some plays in camp and in his second game in two-tone blue.

Specialists (3)

  • Brett Kern
  • Morgan Cox
  • Tucker McCann/Sam Ficken

We hardly knew ye: James Smith

I had to put both kickers here just because we are not sure how many days Tucker McCann could be out. He is currently day-to-day and just feeling “sore” according to Vrabel. That was an absolutely dirty play by the Falcons defender who undercut McCann’s landing on a made-but-negated-by-penalty kick from 47 yards. McCann was looking great and would’ve finished 3/3 on the game if not for the injury.

After much bemoaning from media and fans alike, kicking was not the concern it was perpetuated to be. Great sign!

Who’s out? Who’s in? Leave your comments about the 53-man roster below!

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