Now that training camp is just a few days away, it is time to begin looking at the Tennessee Titans’ training camp roster and to evaluate each position group heading into the preseason.
Some places, the roster spots should be easy to evaluate and determine who will stick on the 53-man roster. At other places, the competition will be fierce – maybe not to see who starts, but who stays around at any number of backup positions.
Let’s start our Titans roster evaluation at the quarterback position, where there isn’t much drama in who will be on the field, just a few questions as to how healthy Marcus Mariota will be.
QBs currently on the roster: 4 _ Marcus Mariota (3rd year, Oregon); Matt Cassel (13th year USC); Alex Tanney (2nd year, Monmouth, Ill.); Tyler Ferguson (Rookie, Western Kentucky).
QBs projected on the 53-man roster: 2, plus 1 on the practice squad.
Best storylines of camp/pre-season: Mariota’s return from injury; Tanney’s quest for the 53.
Analysis: There is no doubt who the starter is here, as Mariota enjoyed a banner second season, throwing for 26 touchdowns to just nine interceptions in leading the Titans to a 9-7 record. The Titans have also set about upgrading the receiving corps to put more weapons around the former Heisman Trophy winner. The only real question for Mariota, who had surgery in December for a broken right fibula, is whether he will be 100 percent for camp and preseason as he says he will be. One of the biggest tests will be when Mariota takes off to run. His mobility is a vital part of his game, and any lingering effects certainly would be troubling. Mariota and the Titans have downplayed that aspect, believing the QB will be fine. But until it is seen and confirmed with on-the-field work and in preseason, there will still be some underlying fears in that regard.
Beyond Mariota, the Titans re-signed Matt Cassel in the off-season for two years, but he suffered a thumb injury in OTA work that sidelined him for most of the time. The Titans know what they have in Cassel, a journeyman, who can get them through a game or two if Mariota is nicked up, but he is past the point in his career of carrying a team for the long haul. Tanney is the real question here. Out of practice squad eligibility with the Titans, it is 53-man roster or bust for the journeyman, who is 30 years old and has played in only one NFL game in that time. Tanney was good enough last year to make the initial roster on opening week, but was quickly demoted to the practice squad when his roster spot was needed at other positions. Tanney got valuable reps with Mariota limited and Cassel out in OTAs. Can he push Cassel for the second spot or force the Titans to keep three quarterbacks? Ferguson displayed a strong arm in OTAs and might be worth a practice squad spot, if the Titans keep just two QBs and don’t find someone they like better to develop from the waiver wire.