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Titans Training Camp: Positional Breakdown & Final 53 Projections

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Photo Credit: Travis May

The Titans have been practicing for nearly three weeks now, and the depth chart is finally coming together. In that time I have covered several practices, logged every snap of the Nissan Stadium scrimmage, and fully charted five practices worth of snaps and alignment data. Yes there are still some positional battles up for grabs. But in today’s positional breakdown I’ll take my best shot at predicting who will make the final 53 for the Titans. If you have any comments or want to talk Titans find me on Twitter @FF_TravisM. Enjoy!

Quarterback

Photo Credit: Travis May

Regardless of what a very vocal and uninformed minority might think, Marcus Mariota is obviously the starter for the Tennessee Titans. Ryan Tannehill performed well against the Eagles, but there has never been a moment throughout this entire summer where he wasn’t the definitive backup at quarterback. It’s just nice to finally have a competent one in town.

Mariota has been consistently accurate and in control of the offense at every single practice this summer. His lone bad day came this past Saturday where two overthrown passes were intercepted off the fingertips of intended receivers. However, he quickly bounced back with a near perfect performance on Sunday.

Logan Woodside has done well as a camp arm, but that doesn’t earn him a roster spot.

Final 53: Marcus Mariota, Ryan Tannehill

Cut: Logan Woodside

Running Back

Photo Credit: Travis May

The running back room has been a hard one to read without Derrick Henry on the field and David Fluellen missing time here recently. However, given the emergence of Jeremy McNichols it looks like there is certainly at top four at the position.

Dion Lewis has absolutely dominated the first team reps all camp long. Fluellen has played a fullback role for the most part, but has a few conventional running back snaps to his name as well. Both Lewis and Fluellen likely make the final 53. McNichols is definitely going to force the Titans to consider keeping four running backs this season though. Let’s just look at how involved he has been in the snaps breakdown through five fully charted practices.

Running Back Snaps (Five Practices)

RB Snaps 1st Team 2nd Team 3rd Team Total
RB Snaps 1st Team 2nd Team 3rd Team Total
Dion Lewis 113 2 0 115
Jeremy McNichols 38 47 0 85
David Fluellen (out some) 27 12 1 40
Dalyn Dawkins 5 35 18 58
Akeem Hunt 3 0 18 21
Alex Barnes 0 0 48 48
Derrick Henry (OUT) 0 0 0 0

McNichols has shown great promise both as a runner and receiver throughout camp. His percentage of snaps with the first team has grown perpetually every week. Plus, he popped off a nice 37-yard run against the Eagles this past week (albeit against second team defenders). The Titans have been using both McNichols and Lewis in their two-minute offense, and special 20 personnel (two backs, no tight ends) looks with both backs on the field. It looks like the Titans have a plan for McNichols (especially if Henry misses time).

Dalyn Dawkins is shifty, and made his best play of camp Sunday, scoring a touchdown in the back right corner of the end zone. But that doesn’t look like it’s enough.

Akeem Hunt just joined the team on Saturday and already has three first team reps, but he’s mainly a camp body to replace the recently sidelined Fluellen.

Alex Barnes makes a crucial mistake at just about every practice and sits firmly at the bottom of the depth chart. He may be cut instead of Hunt once Fluellen or Henry come back.

Final 53: Derrick Henry, Dion Lewis, Jeremy McNichols, David Fluellen

Cut: Dalyn Dawkins, Akeem Hunt, Alex Barnes

Wide Receiver

Photo Credit: Travis May

The top four receiver spots look like a lock, but after that there are definitely questions.

AJ Brown is a lock inside that top four, and finally saw some practice action on Sunday. But sadly, he still sat out all 7v7 and 11v11 portions of practice, along with Corey Davis. His only four snaps on walk through came from the left wide receiver position (where Tajae Sharpe has lined up for most of camp). It looks like he and Sharpe may be splitting outside receiver reps here soon.

Corey Davis, Adam Humphries, and Sharpe have held down starting receiver roles well, all three making solid plays every practice. Those three, plus AJ Brown look like a strong receiver rotation.

Taywan Taylor posted a poor showing against the Eagles this past week, but bounced back with two strong practices Saturday and Sunday. He leaped over Malcolm Butler for a touchdown in one-on-ones. And he caught more passes than any receiver Saturday. Sunday he burned Kenneth Durden deep on a touchdown thrown by Ryan Tannehill. However, Darius Jennings continues to take Taylor’s first team snaps and perform just as well or better.

Jennings actually caught more passes than any other Titans receiver on Sunday and clearly wants the WR5 slot on this roster.

Kalif Raymond showed off his skills in the win over the Eagles Thursday, but still didn’t see significant work this weekend with the first team. He made a few catches Saturday, and scored a touchdown in red zone work Sunday with the second team, but he still looks like the first man out for the Titans.

Let’s take a look at snaps and alignment numbers from five fully charted practices for the wide receivers to give us a better look.

Wide Receiver Snaps (Five Practices)

WR Snaps 1st Team 2nd Team 3rd Team Total
WR Snaps 1st Team 2nd Team 3rd Team Total
Corey Davis 77 0 0 77
Tajae Sharpe 98 3 0 101
Adam Humphries 81 5 0 86
AJ Brown 4 0 0 4
Darius Jennings 60 45 1 106
Taywan Taylor 57 61 2 120
Kalif Raymond 10 50 11 71
Anthony Ratliff-Williams 0 25 51 76
Cody Hollister 4 18 31 53
Papi White 0 13 25 38
DeAngelo Yancey 0 3 28 31
Tanner McEvoy (OUT) 0 0 6 6
Cameron Batson (IR) 16 14 0 30
Jalen Tolliver (CUT) 0 1 25 26
Joseph Parker (CUT) 0 2 9 11

Wide Receiver Alignment (Five Practices)

WR Alignment Left WR Slot Left Slot Right Right WR
WR Alignment Left WR Slot Left Slot Right Right WR
Corey Davis 24 4 9 40
Tajae Sharpe 54 10 4 33
Adam Humphries 6 37 37 8
AJ Brown 4 0 0 0
Darius Jennings 39 6 7 54
Taywan Taylor 64 5 3 48
Kalif Raymond 16 20 22 13
Anthony Ratliff-Williams 30 1 11 34
Cody Hollister 23 3 4 23
Papi White 3 17 17 2
DeAngelo Yancey 12 2 0 17
Tanner McEvoy (OUT) 4 0 0 2
Cameron Batson (IR) 8 3 3 16
Jalen Tolliver (CUT) 10 0 0 16
Joseph Parker (CUT) 0 4 6 1

Clearly the Titans like their top six or seven options at the position.

Anthony Ratliff-Williams and Cody Hollister have both had good camps. Papi White had the catch of the day, Sunday, on a crazy adjustment to haul in a back shoulder throw. Tanner McEvoy caught a touchdown against the Eagles. And DeAngelo Yancey has already looked better than the receivers he was brought into replace. However, things still look like this:

Final 53: Corey Davis, Adam Humphries, Tajae Sharpe, AJ Brown, Darius Jennings, Taywan Taylor

Cut: Kalif Raymond, Anthony Ratliff-Williams, Papi White, DeAngelo Yancey, Tanner McEvoy

IR: Cameron Batson

Final Note: If the Titans want to keep Kalif Raymond they should trade away Taywan Taylor.

Tight End

This position looks more clear cut than any other. Delanie Walker, Mycole Pruitt, and Anthony Firkser have dominated first team reps so far. Some media members seem to like Ryan Hewitt for some reason, but there’s really no evidence to suggest he’ll make the team when you look at the snaps breakdown.

Tight End Usage

TE Snaps 1st Team 2nd Team 3rd Team Total
TE Snaps 1st Team 2nd Team 3rd Team Total
Delanie Walker (out some) 45 0 0 45
Mycole Pruitt 83 11 0 94
Anthony Firkser 76 25 4 105
Ryan Hewitt 6 28 22 56
Cole Wick 3 39 32 74
Parker Hesse 4 23 31 58
Jonnu Smith (OUT) 0 0 0 0

The only wild card at the position is Jonnu Smith. If comes back healthy by week one, do the Titans cut a tight end? Doubtful. Jonnu is still seen every day working on a separate field for part of practice, but unless he plays in the third preseason game he likely opens the season on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list.

Final 53: Delanie Walker, Mycole Pruitt, Anthony Firkser

Cut: Ryan Hewitt, Cole Wick, Parker Hesse

PUP: Jonnu Smith

Offensive Line

Taylor Lewan’s suspension makes this position a little complicated, it’s given some well-deserved opportunities to other lineman in camp. Austin Pasztor got some key work at tackle early on. The right guard competition has been fierce between Kevin Pamphile, Jamil Douglas, Aaron Stinnie, Corey Levin, and Nate Davis. But based on latest camp snaps and usage the offensive line likely looks like this:

Final 53: Jack Conklin, Roger Saffold, Ben Jones, Kevin Pamphile, Dennis Kelly, Nate Davis, Austin Pasztor, Jamil Douglas

Suspended: Taylor Lewan

Cut: Aaron Stinnie, Corey Levin, Tyler Marz, David Quessenberry, AT Hall, Hroniss Grasu

Defensive Line

Jurrell Casey is finally back in action, albeit in a limited fashion, but the Titans look more like themselves up front now. DaQuan Jones, Austin Johnson, Matt Dickerson, and Brent Urban have all rotated in and out with the first team throughout camp. All four likely make the team.

Urban has been a nickel package specialist, holding two gaps on every play. He even shared a sack with Isaiah Mack with the second team. Both he and Mack have been active every practice, taking advantage of increased snaps without Casey around.

Mack has probably logged more sacks than any other defensive lineman in camp. Even though he went undrafted this spring, this former UT-Chattanooga Moc looks like he might make the team.

Final 53: Jurrell Casey, DaQuan Jones, Austin Johnson, Matt Dickerson, Brent Urban, Isaiah Mack

Cut: Amani Bledsoe, Braxton Hoyett, Frank Herron, Chris Nelson, Eric Cotton

NFI/IR: Jeffery Simmons

Linebacker

The inside linebacker competition began a little cloudy, but it’s clear now that Rashaan Evans and Jayon Brown will be starting. Wesley Woodyard has been rolling with the second team quite a bit for the last week now with Darren Bates or Nigel Harris at his side. David Long has also seen a few snaps with the second team, but clearly looks like the sixth option inside.

Jayon makes a defensive play in coverage just about every practice. Rashaan is always around the ball and looks like the anchor of the entire front seven right now.

The outside linebacker rotation is definitely still unclear (from a “starter” perspective), but there’s not much question right now as to who will make the team. Harold Landry and Sharif Finch have already shown incredible chemistry. Their pass rush moves always seem to be in sync forcing the quarterback into an awkward position. They certainly look like the starters. However, both Cameron Wake and Kamalei Correa have seen their fair share of first team snaps. The first four for the Titans off the edge should be a healthy rotation.

The one pleasant surprise at linebacker this preseason has been undrafted free agent rookie, Derick Roberson (Roby, as the team calls him). He’s always first man on the field with the second team and has found his way to the quarterback numerous times throughout camp. He absolutely flattens tight ends and receivers that try to block him on the edge as well. In fact he nearly injured Kalif Raymond today throwing him to the ground on an outside run. His ferocity likely lands him on the team.

Final 53: Harold Landry, Rashaan Evans, Jayon Brown, Sharif Finch, Wesley Woodyard, Cameron Wake, Kamalei Correa, Derick Roberson, Darren Bates, Nigel Harris, David Long

Cut: Latroy Lewis, Jordan Williams, Ukeme Eligwe

IR: D’Andre Walker

Defensive Backs

Last, but certainly not least, the defensive backs have been a lot of fun this preseason. They’re always the most vocal at every practice. When a second team guy makes a play Byard and Vaccaro are on the sidelines dancing, flinging Gatorade all over the place. It’s a fun, talented group.

Although Adoree got beat deep in the Titans first preseason game, he’s actually had a solid camp. He generally makes at least one diving defensive play every practice. Logan Ryan, Malcolm Butler, and LeShaun Sims have all consistently made plays at corner as well. The fifth corner spot is what will be interesting.

Kareem Orr has grabbed at least four interceptions throughout camp (including one on Sunday). Kenneth Durden has been the king of the pass deflection (best play of the day on Sunday, almost made a one-handed interception). Tye Smith and Josh Kalu have also made a few plays.

The safeties also look like they have a top four: Kevin Byard, Kenny Vaccaro, Amani Hooker, Dane Cruikshank. Hooker has seen some first team work every practice staying on in nickel packages. Cruikshank is always first man on the field with the second team.

LaDarius Wiley is the fifth safety if they keep an extra. He’s consistently in the right place at the right time with the second team, staying on the field often with Cruikshank and Hooker. The former Vanderbilt Commodore might just be the 53rd man to make the team.

Final 53: Kevin Byard, Kenny Vaccaro, Adoree Jackson, Logan Ryan, Malcolm Butler, Amani Hooker, LeShaun Sims, Dane Cruikshank, Kenneth Durden, LaDarius Wiley

Cut: Kareem Orr, Tye Smith, Jerry Tillery, Mike Jordan, Joshua Kalu, D’Andre Payne

I hope you enjoyed this (far too in-depth) breakdown of the Tennesee Titans. As always, find me on Twitter @FF_TravisM if you want to talk Titans!