The Tennesee Titans had their first preseason game last night, and fell to the New Orleans Saints 19-16. While I have not yet watched the replay of the game, which aired this afternoon on the NFL Network, it seems like an opportune time to update my roster prediction, particularly since preparation for the games means the first part of training camp, that held at Austin Peay, is over. Damien Nash, 5th round draft pick last year, showed up out of shape and didn’t seem really receptive to the message that he was 10 pounds heavier than he should have been, and got cut. This means he won’t make the team, despite my prediction. I can’t see the Titans only taking 3 backs, so I believe Quinton Ganther will be the recipient of Nash’s roster spot, based on special teams play and his ability to play either RB or FB. At WR, I’m ready to swallow the Kool-Aid; Bobby Wade seems to have earned an NFL job. He’s been one of the worst WRs in football over the past 3 years. He provided less value per play last year than did Baltimore’s Corey Moore, who only caught one-sixth(!) of his passes. Let me repeat that: Corey Moore, who didn’t catch 83% of the balls thrown to him, was a more valuable, productive receiver than Bobby Wade. Note that this doesn’t take into account Wade fumbled three punts. In the same game. Yes, it was windy that day, but it wasn’t an actual hurricane. With 5 WR who are going to make the team (Bennett, Givens, and last year’s 3 rookies), I need to find a roster space. That space probably comes at the expense of tight end Gregg Guenther. This shift was part of the reason I projected Ganther to make the team, as one less TE means one more slot for somebody to block from.
On the defensive side of the ball, DT Rien Long was lost for the year with an injury in training camp. He was a valuable guy, but thankfully it won’t have the same impact the Peter Sirmon ACL injury did. The drafting of Jesse Mahelona left them with 5 DT who probably deserve to make the team, but with Long’s injury that drops to 4. Since Long won’t count against the 53 man roster, that creates an extra spot for me. At LB, my Rob Reynolds optimism seems misguided, as he’s behind rookie draft pick Stephen Tulloch according to all reports. Subject to preseason game review, I also expect Peter Sirmon to make the team, not leave it in a trade or get cut. This makes Cody Spencer the odd man out. In the secondary, I totally flubbed the Justin Sandy pick, as he was cut before training camp started. My Marcus Randall optimism also seems misguided, as the positional change to LB seems legit, meaning no shot as a DB/special teams dynamo. This opens up a spot for Keon Raymond to make the team as an undrafted free agent at CB. And it looks like I miscounted last time, and am now at 53 players.
Naturally, I’ll probably update this between now and cutdown day, like when I’ve watched a preseason game or two and when rosters get cut down to 65, plus a final report when we know the final 53. But for now, that’s my new story, and I’ll stick to it until I find a new one. And, yes, comments from Pro Football Prospectus 2006 should be coming soon.