I touched on this before in my blog where I took a look at predicting the roster but there are several positions where competition should be heavy in training camp, primarily on the lines. Having said that, the back end roster spots at virtually every single position are up for grabs, so let’s take a look at how that competition might play out, starting with the offense.
I projected the Titans would only carry 2 quarterbacks going into the 2013 season despite Locker’s injury in 2012. Rusty Smith seems to be the odd man out in the equation as Ryan Fitzpatrick and Nathan Enderle seem to fit the pattern of what the Titans want in a quarterback. I predict Enderle will go to the practice squad and the Titans roll with Locker and Fitzpatrick.
Nate Washington, Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter would appear to be virtual locks barring some unforeseen circumstances but how many wideouts will the Titans carry this year? I think 6 at the most so that leaves 2 spots between Damian Williams, Michael Preston, Kevin Walter, Marc Mariani, Roberto Wallace, Rashad Ross, Diondre Borel, Travis Harvey and Dontel Watkins. I see the battle coming down to Williams, Preston, Mariani and Rashad Ross who has some nice return skills. It certainly is possible they elect to go with 5 and carry an extra tight end, which is my way of segueing into the next section.
The Titans list Craig Stevens as a fullback which is interesting. It is certainly possible the Titans roll with Stevens at the full back slot and carry 3 TEs in the form of Delanie Walker, Taylor Thompson and either Brandon Barden, Martell Webb or Jack Doyle. At first I was lukewarm to this thought process but I am coming around to this idea. Jack Doyle is a guy I projected might make the roster. He was a 4 year starter for the Hilltoppers, team captain and overall fairly productive and a decent blocker. While I think it’s silly for Brandon Barden’s DUI to affect his roster spot (it was dismissed) character has been an area of emphasis for the Titans this offseason. Also, using Stevens as the fullback allows them to carry more running backs, which is my clever way of taking you to the running backs part of this blog.
The Titans depth chart lists the running backs in this order: Chris Johnson, Shonn Greene, Darius Reynaud, and then Jalen Parmele and Alvester Alexander. Reynaud has really nice return skills but he isn’t much as a runner (16 carries for 33 yards and a 2.1 YPC in 2012). Jalen Parmele can return as well although he has never worked at the punt return position and yes there is a difference. Their kick return average is virtually a dead even with Reynaud at 23.4 (1 TD) and Parmele at 23.3 (0 TD) while Parmele’s average YPC is 4.0. I know Reynaud is a fan favorite but I think Parmele brings more value as a running back and he is also a great blocker. The Titans could carry 4 running backs if Craig Stevens is the fullback and the run game should still be fine with an improved offensive line, which as you gather takes me to that competition.
What a difference a year and an aggressive offseason has made on the line. Following a horrid performance in 2012 capped off by multiple injuries along the offensive line, the Titans made significant upgrades to a position that needed to be addressed. I know offensive line isn’t sexy for most but to me this could be one of the most fascinating battles to watch. Andy Levitre, Chance Warmack, Michael Roos and David Stewart would seem to be entrenched as the starters but the center position appears to be wide open. I think Fernando Velasco has the best shot at the job but expect rookie Brian Schwenke to push him in camp. While Rob Turner has also taken snaps at center, he is listed at guard behind Chance Warmack. I predicted the Titans would carry 8 offensive lineman but it’s certainly possible they could carry 9 given the debacle of 2012. I see Levitre, Warmack, Roos, Stewart, Velasco, Schwenke, and Turner as roster spot locks though Turner could certainly get pushed by someone else. The battle for those last 2 or maybe even 3? spots are going to be extremely competitive. What’s the over/under on a training camp fight involving Big County? Should be fun to watch.
What say you? Who do you think is on the roster bubble on offense for the Titans in 2013?