It’s that time of the year again. The Titans are set to report to camp tomorrow, and things will be going non-stop until this winter. That being said, before we get ahead of ourselves, we need to look at who will make the final 53 man roster in September. While there are some obvious players who have nothing to worry about, beyond them, no one should be guaranteed anything. It sounds cliché, but the team must stress intense competition this summer. The result of some of these competitions may be some surprising cuts. Today, we will look at some bubble players on the roster.
Mike Martin: Martin has had a pretty disappointing career thus far. Taken relatively high, the hope was that he would be another hit on the defensive line after success in some of the recent years. However, between injury and overall poor play he has not seen the field too much throughout his career. He is starting to get lapped by other players on the roster, and if some of the newcomers—even undrafted players like Derrick Lott—surprise and show some potential, it would not be surprising to see Martin on the way out. He did lose a lot of weight over the offseason, so a possible position change, or at least a stylistic change in his game and hopeful resurgence may be ahead, but realistically speaking, Martin very well may be on his last legs. Prediction: He walks.
Byron Bell: Bell is in an odd position at the moment. Like Matt Cassell in Buffalo, he is simultaneously competing for a starting job, and competing for a roster spot. He was among the worst tackles in the league last year when he was on the left side, and he wasn’t much better on the right. The Titans need to hope that Jeremiah Poutasi is ready to step in right away, because there is currently not much to like at right tackle. If he is ready, considering that the Titans already know what they have in Byron Stingily, Bell may walk. Prediction: He stays.
Ropati Pitoitua: This is another player that is starting to get overlapped a little bit on the defensive line. He has already lost his starting job to Da’Quan Jones, but he now has to battle for his spot on the roster. While he is still effective in run defense, the Titans may want to move on if they like what they see out of some of the younger options. During OTA’s, the team’s 4th round selection, Angelo Blackson, got some positive reviews from Ken Whisenhunt. Pitoitua is probably worth keeping around, but there is no doubt that he is currently a fringe player. Prediction: He stays.
Fernando Velasco: This will be Velasco’s second stint with the team. Having brought him and Andy Gallik in, and considering that the team explored other veteran options and even gave Andy Levitre some snaps at center, it may be indicative of an upcoming position battle. Velasco is a solid option to have on your team for depth and spot starts, and may even bring more consistency than Brian Schwenke, but it is doubtful that he comes out of this with a starting job barring injury. Considering that the interior of the offensive line is crowded when it comes to backups, it will be a hard fought battle for Velasco. Prediction: He walks.
Hakeem Nicks: The Titans took a flier on Nicks during free agency. Considering the overall lack of depth across the board on the roster, you cannot blame them. It’s unclear how much he has left in the tank. After a number of lower body injuries, he just is not the same explosive player that he once was. The good news is that from top to bottom all of the receivers should be competing, so he will be given every opportunity. Hopefully he can at least somewhat return to his old form, but it appears to be doubtful. Prediction: He walks.
Zaviar Gooden: Another extremely disappointing day two draft choice by the team. The team was hoping to bring in another speedy, playmaking linebacker when they drafted him. However, he has been consistently out of position and unable to shed blocks throughout his entire unspectacular career. Even when he was given the best opportunity of his career last season to step up after Zach Brown’s injury four plays into the regular season, he still found a way to be more disappointing than ever, and could not hold the job down. It would not be surprising in the slightest to see him join the likes of Rennie Curran and Gerald McRath, and be out of the league after leaving the team. Prediction: He walks.
None of these players are too surprising. A lot of them have been given a number of opportunities and with a current roster overhaul taking place, they are barely hanging on by a thread. Over the offseason, the team emphasized that free agency was an ongoing process and that they would continue to look for competition, even during training camp. If this is true, it could make things even tougher for some of the above players. All of them need to come ready starting on the first practice on Friday, because their jobs are in danger.