With the preseason complete, the Titans now have to finalize their roster ahead of the regular season. Titans general manager Jon Robinson and head coach Mike Vrabel need to trim the roster from the 90 players they’ve carried through the preseason down to 53 by Saturday at 3 p.m.
Here’s my best guess on the roster they will settle on.
QUARTERBACKS (2): Marcus Mariota, Blaine Gabbert
Gabbert is an upgrade at backup over Matt Cassel from last season. Sixth round draft pick Luke Falk hopefully makes it through waivers and can be signed to the practice squad.
RUNNING BACKS (3): Derrick Henry, Dion Lewis, David Fluellen
Fluellen’s experience, dependability and ability on special teams secured his spot. Both Akrum Wadley and Dalyn Dawkins have shown flashes, but are likely practice quad candidates.
TIGHT END (3): Delanie Walker, Jonnu Smith, Luke Stocker
It’s possible the Titans will elect to keep four tight ends in which case they’ll have to decide between 6-8 Tim Semisch or preseason star Anthony Firkser, but neither has done enough to bump other guys on this list off the roster.
WIDE RECEIVER (6): Rishard Matthews, Corey Davis, Taywan Taylor, Tajae Sharpe, Nick Williams, Darius Jennings
If the Titans only take three tight ends it allows them to keep six wide outs. The top four are locks, as should be Williams who was signed as a free agent this offseason. Jennings has been a steady performer both in practice and the games and deserves the shot.
OFFENSIVE LINE (8): Taylor Lewan, Quinton Spain, Ben Jones, Josh Kline, Dennis Kelly, Corey Levin, Kevin Pamphile, Xavier Sua-Filo
PUP List: Jack Conklin
Conklin doesn’t appear to be ready to start the season as he continues to rehab from a torn ACL suffered in the Titans’ playoff loss in New England, so the Titans will take at least three guys as backups. Levin has versatility inside as do veteran free agent signings Pamphile and Sua-Filo.
DEFENSIVE LINE (6): Jurrell Casey, Bennie Logan, DaQuan Jones, Austin Johnson, David King, Julius Warmsley
Warmsley has been a training camp revelation and gives one of the team’s steadiest units a full rotation of backup players.
OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (5): Brian Orakpo, Derrick Morgan, Harold Landry, Aaron Wallace, Kamalei Correa
Whether the Titans consider the newly acquired Correa an inside or outside linebacker will partly determine who they keep at the positions. The versatile Correa is supposedly best on the outside so here’s a guess that he dooms undrafted rookie Sharif Finch to waivers and a hopeful practice squad slot.
INSIDE LINEBACKER (6): Wesley Woodyard, Will Compton, Rashaan Evans, Jayon Brown, Robert Spillane, Darren Bates
Spillane has been a preseason star for the Titans while playing with the second unit. I think he’s play and attitude (he’s a locker room favorite) will land the one time tryout player a job. Bates has not played particularly well defensively, but is a standout on special teams whom Robinson personally recruited and signed a year ago.
CORNERBACK (5): Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, Adores’ Jackson, Leshaun Sims, Kenneth Durden
It seems like the Titans have to keep five cornerbacks, especially with Malcolm Butler having missed the last two weeks due to injury, so Durden makes the regular season roster.
SAFETY (6): Kevin Byard, Kenny Vaccaro, Kendrick Lewis, Dane Cruikshank, Brynden Trawick, Demontre Hurst
If Lewis is healthy he’ll be one of the Titans back up safeties along with either the rookie Cruikshank or Hurst, who I have as my final selection to the 53. Trawick is a special teams stalwart that is too valuable to cut because of his contributions there.
SPECIALISTS (3): Ryan Succop, Brett Kern, Beau Brinkley
The Titans can thank their lucky stars for this reliable trio that make Robinson and Vrabel’s job just a smidge easier.