NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — NFL teams have to cut their rosters down to the 53-man, regular-season limit by 3 p.m. Central on Tuesday. For the Titans, there will be some difficult decisions due to the competition at a deep receiver position, at linebacker and in the secondary.
The process will further be complicated for General Manager Jon Robinson and Head Coach Mike Vrabel, who is going into day nine of his own quarantine, by the fact that the Titans currently have eight players on the COVID-19/Reserve list. If they remain on the list on Tuesday they won’t count against the active roster, opening spots for guys who may not have otherwise been in the mix, and perhaps providing an opportunity for Robinson and Vrabel to sneak a guy or two past cut down day and through waivers later on.
Here is our official NewsChannel 5 prediction for the Titans’ 53-man roster based on how things stand going into Tuesday.
Logan Woodside, Matt Barkley
Titans starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill remains on the COVID-19/Reserve list and therefore won’t be on the 53-man roster unless he comes off the list Tuesday. That means both Woodside and Barkley will make the roster initially and may stay there. The experience with Tannehill over the last week is a reminder of the importance of having capable backup QB’s that know the system in the building. I’d expect both guys to be around on the active roster or practice squad this season.
RUNNING BACK (3):
Derrick Henry, Darrynton Evans, Mekhi Sargent
Evans will hopefully be healthy enough to be Henry’s full-time backup this season. Sargent’s productivity in games was one of the storylines of the preseason, and he gets the spot with Jeremy McNichols on the COVID-19/Reserve list.
The versatile Blasingame has been an important blocker for the two-time NFL rushing champ and is a capable runner in an emergency role. The Titans frequently had just two running backs up last season.
WIDE RECEIVER (8):
A.J. Brown, Julio Jones, Josh Reynolds, Marcus Johnson, Chester Rogers, Dez Fitzpatrick, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, Cam Batson
The most competitive position all training camp gets a whopping eight players on the initial roster thanks to the lengthy COVID list. There is a concern with the health of Reynolds, who has been plagued all camp by a leg injury, and Johnson after he limped off the field Saturday night, but both should make the roster. Rogers provides value as a receiver and on special teams. Robinson traded up in the fourth round to select Fitzpatrick, so it seems unlikely they’d release him despite significant struggles in his first preseason. Westbrook-Ikhine and Batson have very different statures and skill sets, but both have been developed by the Titans in recent years and provide value on special teams and in special packages on offense. If no one was on the COVID list, Batson probably doesn’t make this group out of camp, but his versatility means there’s a decent chance he could be active week one. Sixth-round pick Racey McMath is a good practice squad candidate once he gets off the COVID list.
TIGHT END (3):
Anthony Firkser, Luke Stocker, Tommy Hudson
Geoff Swaim will see a lot of snaps this season as a tight end blocker, but since he remains on the COVID-19/Reserve list Hudson makes the initial roster along with a receiving threat in Firkser and another blocker in Stocker.
OFFENSIVE LINE (8):
Taylor Lewan, Rodger Saffold, Aaron Brewer, Daniel Munyer, Dillon Radunz, David Quessenberry, Ty Sambrailo, Kendall Lamm
Two of the Titans' four known offensive line starters, center Ben Jones and right guard Nate Davis, were added to the COVID list in recent days. That means this list will look different Tuesday afternoon than it likely will next week. Quessenberry, Sambrailo and Lamm remain in a battle for the starting right tackle spot, and the two guys that don’t win the job will stick as backups. Radunz has been a bit of a disappointment for a second-round pick, but provides a versatile backup that can play both guard and tackle. Munyer and Brewer can both play guard and center, with Brewer the more likely candidate in my mind to stay on the roster once Jones returns.
DEFENSIVE LINE (5):
Jeffery Simmons, Denico Autry, Teair Tart, Larrell Murchison, Anthony Rush
Simmons, Autry and Tart have been a productive starting trio this preseason. Murchison, a fifth-round draft pick in 2020, and Rush provide depth up front.
OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (5):
Bud Dupree, Derick Roberson, Ola Adeniyi, Rashad Weaver, Wyatt Ray
The Titans hope Dupree and Harold Landry (COVID-19 list) will be the starters at outside linebacker week one against the Cardinals. Roberson had a good camp, Adeniyi proved himself to be more than a special teams player, Ray is a hard worker and Weaver has big-time upside that made Tennessee select him in the fourth round of the NFL Draft.
INSIDE LINEBACKER (4):
Rashaan Evans, Jayon Brown, David Long, Monty Rice
Long is making a strong case for more playing time this season alongside Evans and Brown. Rice was a third-round draft pick and will have to make his mark on special teams. Nick Dzubnar (COVID-19 list) could very well find himself back in this room and as a factor on special teams once he’s cleared to return.
Jackrabbit Jenkins, Kristian Fulton, Elijah Molden, Caleb Farley, Breon Borders, Chris Jackson
The Titans started Jenkins and Fulton with Molden in the slot against the Bears. That’s likely to be the starting cornerbacks until first-round pick Farley works his way back into form after injuries have sidelined him for more than a year. Borders and Jackson are capable backups outside and inside, respectively.
Kevin Byard, Amani Hooker, Dane Cruikshank, Matthias Farley, Bradley McDougald
Hooker steps into a starting role opposite Bayrd. Cruikshank has battled injury issues again this preseason, but when healthy is a capable safety and one of the team’s top special teams performers. Farley and McDougald are veterans that should be able to step in if needed.
Brett Kern, Sam Ficken, Morgan Cox
The addition of Ficken and his emergence as a consistent kicker this preseason hopefully will solve the Titans’ kicking woes of recent years. If it does, they have one of the best specialist groups in the league with Pro Bowl punter Kern and consistent long snapper Cox.