5 Dark-Horse Candidates to Make the Tennessee Titans' Final 53-Man Roster
Earlier in the week, I delved into the 10 players currently on roster who are hovering dangerously close to the 53-man cutoff point in August.
After going through that exercise in roster analysis, it has become increasingly clear the Tennessee Titans' coaching staff will have some arduous choices to make during this season’s training camp.
The Titans roster is replete with competition and quality depth at several position groups. Rather than focus on the same targets I pointed out earlier, I'm going to focus on some guys who aren't likely to make the final roster but still pose a threat.
All are interesting prospects with long odds. The risk/reward for giving up roster spots on these guys is high, but for a team in a state of rebuilding on the fly, it could be worth it.
CB Micah Pellerin
While much of the attention is being placed on the competition between Coty Sensabaugh, Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Tommie Campbell for the team's second starting corner role, there is competition for the final corner spot as well.
Near locks to make the final roster at corner are Jason McCourty and the three latter names. Pellerin faces competition in the form of fourth-round pick Marqueston Huff and Khalid Wooten, who was drafted in 2013.
Though Wooten may simply be a camp body, Huff and Pellerin both offer some coveted flexibility in that they can play safety as well.
WR Derek Hagan
There is talent at the top of the depth chart with the fast-emerging Kendall Wright and Nate Washington on the outside. Justin Hunter also has big-play potential, but after that, things become far less promising.
Head coach Ken Whisenhunt had this to offer on Hagan's performance so far, per Lindy's Sports: "He’s a veteran receiver. We liked what we’ve seen of him. He had a good workout. We’re just trying to get better as a team. … We’re trying to create competition."
After the top three players at the position, the competition's talent is underwhelming but offers sufficient challengers. Marc Mariani, Brian Robiskie and Michael Preston look to be Hagan's main competition.
With a solid camp, Hagan should make it through cut-downs, but a free-agent addition could be made.
K Travis Coons
Finding a kicker as reliable as Rob Bironas will be a tough thing to do, but the team has two options on the roster it believes can get the job done.
Maikon Bonani and Travis Coons will compete with one another for the team's kicking duties and have some big shoes to fill if given the opportunity.
I expect this situation to be resolved in preseason game action, when the attempts begin to matter.
RB Antonio Andrews
The departure of Chris Johnson has signaled significant change in the Titans backfield this offseason.
Rookie running back Bishop Sankey appears primed to be the team's main ball-carrier, while Shonn Greene will spell Sankey and offer a more physical style.
Dexter McCluster will serve as a jack-of-all-trades of sorts, taking carries and running routes out of the backfield and splitting out to receiver as well.
While Leon Washington is technically a running back, his main role with the team will be to field kicks and punts for returns. After those four, the situation comes down to how many roster spots the team intends to use on its backfield.
Jackie Battle has begun to add to his versatility, which already included running back and special teams ace, by taking snaps at fullback. Collin Mooney is a natural fullback.
Andrews would offer the team another well-rounded running back, a position in which Battle has been poor in for some time. In two years at Western Kentucky, Andrews racked up yards on the ground (3,458), through the air (910) and on kick/punt returns (1,412).
Per David Climer of The Tennessean, Andrews has a simple plan for earning a spot on the team: "I just have to practice hard and play hard. I have to show them how athletic and versatile I am and that I can play at this level."
While his chances of making the team are slim, the opportunity remains.
NT Chigbo Anunoby
At 6'4", 324 pounds, Chigbo Anunoby offers the Titans another option to play at nose tackle as they transition to defensive coordinator Ray Horton's 3-4 defense.
Sammie Lee Hill, Antonio Johnson and DaQuan Jones are the other three players along the defensive line weighing more than 320 pounds.
While Hill and Johnson are more penetrating defensive tackles, Anunoby is more of the space-eater that is traditional to a "30" front.
It would take some improvement due to coaching to see Anunoby make major strides, but his strength and ability to anchor the defensive line could prove to be a major asset for the coaching staff.