Welcome back, everyone! Last week, we touched on the offensive side of the ball for the Titans. This week, we’re going to get into a little bit of who is in camp on the defensive side of the ball, and take a stab at who I think is going to make the final 53. Also going to include a bit on the special teams’ units as well. Let’s dive right in!
Interior Defensive Line
- Players in camp: Jeffery Simmons, Denico Autry, Larrell Murchison, Trevon Coley, Woodrow Hamilton IV, Naquan Jones, Kyle Peko, Anthony Rush, Teair Tart.
Simmons, Autry, and Tart are the locks to make the final 53 out of this group. 2020 midround pick Murchison has a pretty good shot at sticking as well. Through the first week of camp, there isn’t really a lot of buzz around any of the other names, but I’d anticipate another name to sneak on the list.
Roster spots: 5; Simmons, Autry, Tart, Murchison, Jones
- Players in camp: Harold Landry, Bud Dupree, Derick Roberson, Wyatt Ray, John Simon, Rashad Weaver, Ola Adeniyi
This is the first position where I feel the Titans are a little light, though Autry can bump out on the edge and fill in when needed. With Dupree likely to start the year on the PUP list, I’d expect the remaining players listed to make the 53. Rookie Rashad Weaver is one of my favorite dark horse DROY candidates, expect him to get plenty of burns early in the season while Dupree recovers from his ACL injury from last season.
Roster spots: 6; Landry, Roberson, Ray, Simon, Weaver, Adeniyi. NOTE: Dupree will be on the PUP list to start the regular season.
- Players in camp: Rashaan Evans, Jayon Brown, David Long Jr, Monty Rice, B. J. Bello, Jan Johnson, Justin March-Lillard
This is one of the more interesting positions in camp for the Titans. Evans was disappointing last season, and Brown is coming off of a season-ending injury. David Long has been a solid ball attacker but lacks some in the coverage game. Enter rookie Monty Rice, who has, according to the voice of the Titans Mike Keith, really stood out early in camp. I’d expect those 4 listed to make the final 53, with Rice and Long playing a large role on special teams.
Roster spots: 4; Evans, Brown, Long, Rice.
Players in camp: Kevin Byard, Amani Hooker, Kristian Fulton, Janoris “Jackrabbit” Jenkins, Caleb Farley, Elijah Molden, Breon Borders, Kevin Peterson, Dane Cruikshank, Chris Jackson, Maurice Smith, Breian Boddy-Calhoun, Brady Breeze, Matthias Farley.
This was arguably the Titans’ most disappointing position group in 2020, which is why the front office completely nuked the room. Gone are long-time starters like Malcolm Butler, Adoree Jackson, Kenny Vacarro. Newcomers Jackrabbit Jenkins, Caleb Farley, and Elijah Molden are all expected to play big roles for the new-look secondary, all of whom have been receiving great reviews thus far into camp.
The biggest factor in the defensive back group is star safety, Kevin Byard. Widely regarded as one of the best ballhawks in football, Byard had a disappointing season in 2020. A portion of his play can be attributed to the lack of pass rush, but as the guy considered the leader of the defense, his play MUST improve in 2021 for the Titans defense to return to respectability.
Finally, to wrap up the DB’s, a good number of these guys will make the 53. Guys like Boddy-Calhoun, Cruikshank, and Jackson will all likely stick as core special teams players. I’d also expect someone like Brady Breeze to stick to the practice squad if he doesn’t manage to squeak onto the final roster.
Roster spots; 10; Byard, Hooker, Fulton, Jenkins, Farley, Molden, Borders, Cruikshank, Jackson, Boddy-Calhoun.
While punter Brett Kern has been a staple holding down the punting duties, his kicking counterpart is still up in the air. Sam Ficken and Tucker McCann are the players currently listed at kicker on the Titans roster, while they also have had rookie Blake Haubiel in camp as well.
To be frank, none of them have impressed thus far. Kicking was a sore spot early in the year last year. After holding onto McCann on the practice squad last season, he has the inside track for the job, but there is still a lot of camp left to shake out fist.