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5 Titans who must step up vs. Vikings

These five roster-bubble Titans need a strong showing versus the Vikings

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Syndication: The Tennessean Mark Zaleski / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Tennessee Titans have concluded their joint practices with the Minnesota Vikings. They’ll now play each other in Saturday’s second preseason game. The Titans may be without rookie quarterback Will Levis, who exited practice with an undisclosed injury. That could mean Malik Willis plays the entire contest.

Tennessee’s roster stands at 90. Saturday’s showdown with the Vikings represents the second-last opportunity for roster-bubble players to stake their claim. We’ve swiftly identified five Titans who need to put forth a strong performance.

Monty Rice, ILB

Monty Rice was absent from joint practices on Thursday, so perhaps he won’t even be healthy enough to play. That would be a concerning development for Rice, who earned just seven defensive snaps in Tennessee’s first preseason game. Rice is seemingly trailing Jack Gibbens in a positional showdown to start next to Azeez Al-Shaair. Chance Campbell, Luke Gifford, and Ben Niemann also played well. The Titans possess terrific depth at inside linebacker, and Rice is losing ground.

Hassan Haskins, RB

Hassan Haskins is miles behind Tyjae Spears for the No. 2 running back job. That perceived battle is already over. Furthermore, Haskins (6-12-1) was outperformed by Julius Chestnut (7-46) last weekend, and Jonathan Ward has outperformed him all summer long. The Titans also recently added Jacques Patrick to the roster. Given Haskins’ ongoing legal situation, he’s likely already in Tennessee’s dog house. Another 2.0 yard per carry showing wouldn’t do Haskins any favors.

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, WR

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine played into the second half last weekend. The former undrafted free agent played 20 total offensive snaps, which was a similar amount to other roster-bubble receivers like Kearis Jackson (19) and Tre’Shaun Harrison (18). The injury to Treylon Burks may help Westbrook-Ikhine hold onto his roster spot, but he needs to start giving the Titans’ coaching staff more reasons to hold onto him.

Caleb Shudak, K

Yes, Caleb Shudak made his kick last weekend, and Trey Wolff missed his. But Wolff has a significantly stronger leg. And Shudak’s successful 40-yard field goal was about as unconvincing as a successful kick can be. Shudak has routinely come up short on longer attempts throughout training camp practices. Shudak must be more reliable from 45-yards-plus to keep Tennessee from keeping Wolff over him, or from looking elsewhere around the league once cuts are finalized.

Andrew Rupcich, OT

Titans starting right tackle Chris Hubbard struggled with Danielle Hunter throughout joint practices with the Vikings. The Titans could give Andrew Rupcich another opportunity to challenge Hubbard for the starting gig. Rupcich played a team-high 44 snaps last weekend, and could be in line to receive another big workload.

Rupcich needs to be better though. The former Culver-Stockton standout allowed a team-high five pressures (tied with Zack Johnson), per Pro Football Focus. Rupcich could go from contending for a starting job to being outright released during final cuts.