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Breaking Down the Titans Initial 53-man Roster

The Titans loaded up with linebackers and defensive backs.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Tennessee Titans Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

The Titans announced their initial 53-man roster for 2017 today and while there weren’t many shockers, there were a few mild surprises. Mularkey said the roster isn’t necessarily set in stone yet so there could still be some movement over the next couple days. Here is my position by position breakdown.

Quarterback (2)

On Roster: Marcus Mariota, Matt Cassel

Injured Reserve: Alex Tanney

Waived: Tyler Ferguson

No surprises here besides the announcement that Alex Tanney suffered a broken foot against Kansas City Thursday night and will go on IR for the 2017 season. Since he did not make the initial 53-man roster he will not be eligible for return during the season, but I don’t think that matters much. We’ve likely seen Tanney’s last snap in a Titans uniform.

Mularkey said today that the team would like to add a 3rd QB to either the 53-man roster or the practice squad and will be taking a look at players that get cut by other teams today. I don’t think Ferguson is that guy. I took a look at some other potential options a couple weeks ago here. Kyle Sloter — one of the guys I highlighted in that piece — has been waived by the Broncos and could be a real option here.

Running Back (4)

On Roster: DeMarco Murray, Derrick Henry, David Fluellen, Jalston Fowler

Waived: Akeem Judd, Khalfani Muhammad, Brandon Radcliff

No surprises here either as Fluellen gets the RB3 spot. Mularkey did mention that they were interested in adding a quick running back to the team, could be a practice squad guy. It doesn’t necessarily sound like it will be Khalfani Muhammad, so this could be another potential spot for an outside addition.

Wide Receiver (5)

On Roster: Corey Davis, Rishard Matthews, Eric Decker, Taywan Taylor, Harry Douglas

Injured Reserve: Tajae Sharpe, Mekale McKay

Waived: Eric Weems, Tre McBride, KeVonn Mabon, Darius Jennings, Jonathan Krause, Giovani Pascascio

After all the debate over this position, we all ended up being wrong. Tajae Sharpe suffered a setback with his foot and will spend the 2017 season on IR. Similar to Tanney, he will not be eligible to return this season.

Harry Douglas survives again which will make Titans Twitter very angry. Douglas is an ideal depth receiver though. He knows the offense and won’t make the mental errors that drive coaches and quarterbacks crazy if he has to come in the game. He’s also still got enough quickness and route running chops to separate and make catches. Doesn’t hurt that he can serve as an emergency punt and kick returner if needed. Mike Mularkey looooooves him some Harry Douglas.

McBride is certainly more physically talented than Douglas at this point in their careers, but Mularkey criticized his consistency often during camp and I have to imagine that’s what cost him a roster spot. There is still a chance that he makes it back on the practice squad again if he’s not claimed on waivers.

The big upset to me here is Weems not making the team. I felt like he was close to a lock by the end of the preseason. There is still a chance that he ends up back here though as Mularkey said they would like to have him back if he clears waivers tomorrow. Assuming he goes unclaimed, he would be allowed to sign with any team. #BringBackWeems

Tight End (3)

On Roster: Delanie Walker, Jonnu Smith, Phillip Supernaw

Waived: Jace Amaro, Jerome Cunningham, Tim Semisch

The only question here was whether the Titans would keep Jace Amaro as a 4th tight end and we got our answer. The Titans seem likely to add a TE to the practice squad if they don’t find a 4th guy they think is worthy of being on the roster.

Offensive Line (8)

On Roster: Taylor Lewan, Jack Conklin, Ben Jones, Quinton Spain, Josh Kline, Dennis Kelly, Tim Lelito, Corey Levin

Waived: Tyler Marz, Brad Seaton, Josue Matias, Steven Moore, Mark Spelman, Jake Simonich, Jonah Pirsig

I had Marz making my final 53 since he was typically the first guard in off the bench during preseason, but he gets waived in favor of keeping 6th round pick Corey Levin on the team. I’m guessing the team felt like Levin wouldn’t make it on to the practice squad and wanted to protect his long term upside rather than keep Marz. I’m sure they would love to keep Marz on the practice squad if possible.

Defensive Line (6)

On Roster: Jurrell Casey, DaQuan Jones, Austin Johnson, Sylvester Williams, Karl Klug, David King

Waived: Angelo Blackson, Antwaun Woods, DeAngelo Brown, Jimmy Staten, Cameron Robbins

When the David King trade was announced last night I figured it would signify the end of the road for Angelo Blackson in Tennessee and it did. I went back and watched some of King’s work in the preseason last night and I think Titans fans will like him. He’s a high motor guy with some quickness and looks a lot like a bigger Karl Klug. Having another penetrating defensive lineman with some pass rush skills will be nice.

I always liked Blackson’s athletic profile, but he never seemed to put it all together on the field. The coaches gave Staten every chance to take his job during preseason and then went and traded for King. Seems clear to me that they were ready to move on.

Woods is a tough luck cut. I left him off my final 53-man projection due to the fact that I just couldn’t see them keeping two dedicated nose tackles when that position was on the field for about 30% of defensive snaps last year AND both Jones and Johnson can slide inside if needed and hold up just fine. I like Woods a lot and hope the Titans are able to put him back on the practice squad.

Outside Linebacker (6)

On Roster: Brian Orakpo, Derrick Morgan, Erik Walden, Kevin Dodd, Aaron Wallace, Josh Carraway

Waived: None

The Titans went ahead and kept all 6 guys at this spot and I think it was the right call. Josh Carraway was impressive in preseason play and deserves the opportunity to stick around. He has the physical tools to continue to develop and now he will get the chance to do it here.

I was shocked at how many Tweets there were calling for Dodd to be cut. I agree that he has not been very impressive in preseason, but I don’t know that I’m ready to give up on him yet either. He is clearly out of place playing as a true outside linebacker, but I still think there is a good role for him as a 40 front end and occasional interior pass rusher on this team. He’s also among the best edge setters in the run game and that matters too (although admittedly not as much as pass rushing). He also has only been fully healthy for about a month so lets give him some time to shake the rust off.

Inside Linebacker (5)

On Roster: Avery Williamson, Wesley Woodyard, Jayon Brown, Nate Palmer, Daren Bates

Waived: Justin Staples

No surprises here. Mularkey did indicate that Brown will likely see regular work as a nickel linebacker which is exciting given how well he has played in that role so far.

Cornerback (6)

On Roster: Logan Ryan, LeShaun Sims, Adoree Jackson, Brice McCain, Kalan Reed, Tye Smith

Waived: Demontre Hurst, D’Joun Smith, Manny Abad

The surprise here is Tye Smith. Smith had a good camp, but I wasn’t sure if the team would keep 6 corners. He is a hard hitter who can contribute on special teams, however I would imagine he and Curtis Riley are among the last guys on the roster and they could get bumped for a 3rd QB or 4th TE if the Titans find someone that they like on the waiver wire.

Safety (5)

On Roster: Kevin Byard, Johnathan Cyprien, Da’Norris Searcy, Brynden Trawick, Curtis Riley

Waived: Denzel Johnson

I’m a little surprised they went with 5 safeties after they kept 6 corners, especially since Kalan Reed has shown the ability to play safety if needed. Again, Riley is a good player, but he’s probably still on the bubble.

Specialists (3)

On Roster: Brett Kern, Beau Brinkley, Ryan Succop

Waived: Ryan DiSalvo

Brinkley should be healthy to start Week 1 which is a very good thing after DiSalvo showed how bad a bad long snapper can be.