I posted a comment in a recent thread about the Titans updated depth chart how I wanted Marc Mariani to win the return man job and stick on the roster instead of 2012 return man Darius Reynaud, but not based off of Mariani's "feel good story", it's simply because I believe Mariani is better at returning kicks and punts than Reynaud. After thinking about it, there's a lot of possible trickle-down effects from this decision.
In all likelihood, one of these guys isn't going to make the roster in 2013. I don't see the Titans keeping Reynaud as the 3rd RB in addition to keeping Mariani as the 6th WR. Since neither are ever going to be big contributors on offense, it seems like a wasted roster spot to keep both of these guys as opposed to just one.
So here's the trickle-down effects I can see from both sides.
Keeping Marc Mariani:
The Titans keeping Marc Mariani essentially guarantees that Pratt's boy Michael Preston and former Texan Kevin Walter will get the boot. This leaves the main 5 WR's as Kenny Britt, Nate Washington, Kendall Wright, Damian Williams, and Justin Hunter. I'd expect all 5 of these guys to see action, but I doubt Mariani will get much time at all on offense if he sticks. Due to the depth and talent we have, it's unlikely Mariani's services will be needed on offense anyway, barring injury.
Keeping Mariani also means that Jackie Battle will likely stick as the #3 RB on the roster. This is a better scenario than having Reynaud as the 3rd RB, and the only real reason you need is that Reynaud is CJ circa 2011 running the ball (dances like a ballerina and trying to hard to hit the home runs). I'm assuming CJ will be healthy all year as he has always been for his career. But if for some reason Shonn Greene were to suffer an injury, then the Titans have no semblance of a power running game at all if Reynaud were to be the #3 RB. That means you're either forced to involve Quinn Johnson as a short yardage back, force CJ into the role, or abandon the idea altogether. We saw from the first preseason game what Shonn Greene and Jackie Battle bring to the table, and both are very good options for a short yardage game. There wouldn't be a huge drop off from Greene to Battle, but the drop off from Greene to Reynaud would be enormous.
As far as the return game goes, I think Mariani is better, as I've stated above. Keeping Mariani (especially with his injury) means the Titans believe he's the better choice as well.
Reasons for keeping Marc Mariani:
1) He is more consistent as a return man.
2) Has better awareness and vision.
3) His services at WR will likely not be called upon (this goes for any of the WR's that might get the 6th spot). This is contrasting with keeping Reynaud as the 3rd RB and his likelihood of playing being higher than the 6th WR on the team.
4) Allows the Titans to have insurance for Shonn Greene by keeping Jackie Battle.
Keeping Darius Reynaud:
The Titans keeping Darius Reynaud likely means that Mariani's injury caused him to miss enough time that the Titans weren't comfortable with him as the primary return man, and that Reynaud had shown enough to keep his role. This decision also has to mean that the Titans are confident in CJ and Greene's ability to stay healthy and perform as desired. At the same time, it also probably means that they are OK with Reynaud having to play on offense if need be (God, I hope that doesn't happen).
This also means that Michael Preston and Kevin Walter's chances of making the roster increase significantly. It is likely to come down to one of them if Mariani is cut.
I would be surprised if Reynaud's boom-or-bust return man mentality beats out Mariani's overall consistency in the minds of the Titans. But, there's a possibility that they believe that is the case.
Reasons for keeping Darius Reynaud:
1) Has experience from last year.
2) Mariani's injury requires the Titans to go in a different direction. Assuming he misses 2 weeks, that puts him back around the final preseason game. But if he were to miss more time, you'd assume the Titans would be forced to take the healthy Reynaud over the questionable Mariani.
3) Preston or Walter's upside forces the Titans to give one of them the 6th WR spot over Mariani.
Marc Mariani wins. He's the better return man. I think (hope) the Titans will see that, as well as the benefits to the rest of the roster they can get if they keep him.
So what say you, MCM? Who's better, Reynaud or Mariani? Who do you want to keep?