Which WRs will make the Titans roster?

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I heard an interesting comment last week from Terry McCormick, the Titans beat writer for The [Nashville] City Paper. It wouldn’t surprise him if the Titans keep only five receivers when they cut down to a 53-man roster on Saturday.
The reasoning is that Mike Heimerdinger will only be using four WRs. The fifth one would be inactive on gamedays and only be activated for those games in which another receiver can’t go. No reason to waste an extra roster spot or two on guys who won’t see the field.
Jim Wyatt blogged Monday on a related note. He says we should just focus on what the top three WRs can do and not to worry about who the last three are (assuming the Titans keep six or seven.)
Wyatt believes that Justin Gage, Justin McCareins and Brandon Jones are the top three. I wrote the same in this piece last week.
There’s no way Roydell Williams will be the fourth guy. He’s not ready to play and will very possibly be cut, as Drexel Perry wrote yesterday.
Fred Graves, Heimerdinger and Jeff Fisher have had all spring and summer to evaluate the receivers. They certainly should already have their list of who’s who in the pecking order and who will make the final cut. I doubt if Thursday night’s game at Green Bay will make much of a difference, if any, in their decision. Unless of course, one guy on the bubble really shows something or another really screws up.
I believe Lavelle Hawkins and Biren Ealy have the best chances at being numbers four and five. Roydell may luck out and get the sixth or seventh spot, if available, based on past performance.
It seems like every year, the “final” 53-man roster changes a day later, as the Titans pick up a player or two released by another team. It won’t surprise me a bit if a WR who was released by another team is better than our fifth or sixth guy and is picked up.
If you’re one of the people wondering about the bottom of the depth chart instead of the top, the next several days will be interesting.

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12 Responses to “Which WRs will make the Titans roster?”

  1. Tom Gower Says:

    I’ve been meaning to write about this, but for about the past week or so, I’ve been where McCormick apparently is-it’s likely the Titans will keep 5 WRs, not 6 or 7, on the active roster. One thing that wouldn’t surprise me is to see Roydell have a “recurrence” of his ankle problem and start the year on the PUP. That’ll give him 6 weeks to rehab, and let the team keep 5. In that case, I’d agree with your top 3 and Hawkins, but would give Chris Davis the edge over Ealy because of his punt return ability. I’m not sold on Carr’s ability to (a) catch the ball and (b) run after catching it. I’m not entirely sold on Davis’s ability to do both, either, but I think in the eyes of the team he’s ahead of anybody else (like Jones).
    It also wouldn’t surprise me to see whoever does make it as the 5th WR not be around for opening day. That said, it seems like there are a few teams that might have this attitude. If Amato isn’t the LS, I’d expect them to look at bringing in another LB off the waiver wire.

  2. Dave Says:

    you are spot on with your point – If we are only using 4 a game, there’s really no point in keeping 7 spots open on the roster. I believe either Lavelle or Roydell will make the 5th and 6th spots – Even though I love Ealy’s story and I personally really root for him, I just think he’s been terribly inconsistent. We are looking for guys that don’t drop passes – although I’d argue that ‘hey, at least ealy’s stayed healthy,’ I can’t see him beating out roydell after last season… But you are right that we may just keep one of the three and pick someone else up – ( I understand the problems off the field, but wouldn’t Cedrick Wilson be a great pick-up?)

  3. Garland Says:

    “Coach only uses X number of players” can be said of virtually EVERY position, so the fact that Dinger doesn’t typically use more than 4 receivers in a given game doesn’t really mean anything, does it? Every position has backups, and WR should be no different. If you plan on using 4, you need at least 6 on the roster unless you plan on using scrubs from the practice squad when someone gets hurt.
    I could see them dropping to 5 initially, but they won’t go into the season with only 5. They would be assuming someone better than their #6 is going to be released and available for them to sign. They would be hanging on to bubble players at other positions to see what pans out in the cuts at those positions before releasing someone to make room for the new receiver.
    When is the last time the Titans only carried 5 WRs on the 53-man roster?

  4. Garland Says:

    Tom, why do you doubt Carr’s punt-return abilities? When I saw the drills in camp, he was by far the most consistent catching the ball cleanly. Have you seen something else that causes concern?

  5. Garland Says:

    You also keep guys on the roster to develop them. Some guys are good enough that you can’t just stick them on your practice squad without other teams signing them. If you can only play 45 guys each week, then you have 8 spots that are basically there to hold on to reserves without the chance for other teams to snatch them away. If the team sees more potential in its 7th receiver than its 6th linebacker, they may choose to use that gameday-inactive roster spot for him.

  6. adam Says:

    Hawkins, Roydell and Ealy will get spots if they keep 6. There’s no way they keep 7, as they may look to keep 4 RBs and 4 TEs. If they keep 5 WRs, then whether Roydell or Ealy gets cut will be entirely in Roydell’s hands this week. PW, CD and EW are fighting for a spot on the practice squad this week. Chris Davis hasn’t done enough in preseason and fumbled too many times last year to make the team.
    I was swept up in all the hype over the improving WRs during OTAs, optimistic that the group as a whole would surprise. The fact that Brandon Jones has become the consensus #3 WR is extremely disappointing. I hope Hawkins heals up quickly.

  7. Tom Gower Says:

    Carr for his career has had 6 fumbles on 77 punt returns. While better than Davis was last year, it’s not exactly good ball security. Compare to D-Mase, who from 1998-2001 fumbled once on 128 returns. While that kind of ball security is exceptional, fumbling once every 13 returns means you’re potentially giving the other team an extra possession every other game. And it’s not like Carr has been good enough at running once he catches the ball to offset ball security issues, what with a career average of under 6 yards per return.

  8. Tom Gower Says:

    And to answer the question, I only have Gamebooks going back to 2002, but the Titans have had 6 or 7 WRs on the Week 1 roster for each of the past 6 years. From that end, keeping only 5 appears unlikely, but I’d expect to see them carry 4 TEs, which they only did in 2005. The choice is probably pick 2 of (4th TE, Ganther, Cramer, 6th WR, 3rd QB). A #3 QB is very doubtful to me, and I expect the top 4 TEs to be here, so it comes down to Ganther, Cramer, and a 6th WR. If special teams is the deciding factor, as it often is at the end of the roster, then I think the 6th WR is far from a foregone conclusion.

  9. jerryt. Says:

    Who ever they decide to keep i hope hawkins be one out of the five they keep he’s good.

  10. Scott Says:

    I don’t think there is any way the titans go into the season with only 5 receivers. The way Jones gets injured every year and the fact that McCareins and Hawkins have already missed time this year becasue of injury should suggest to Fisher that he needs at least 6 WRs on the roster. I still think Roydell will be there on opening day.

  11. Garland Says:

    Thanks for looking up the number of receivers on the old rosters, Tom. With CJ being able to line up at WR, I could see them potentially keeping just 5 pure WRs and 4 TEs. But I still doubt it.

  12. I.jason Says:

    WR is one of those positions that needs extra bodies for practice. Both to fill out the scout team and to spell the starters. It’s also the primary position (along with CB) from which you get “gunners” for the punting team. This is why you see many teams with 6 or 7 WRs on the roster.
    That said, our need to replace potentially injured recievers is lessened with CJ on the roster. In an “emergency” game-day injury situation, he can bump out to the slot pretty well, and heck, ‘Dinger loves him the two-TE sets, which again lessens the need for WR bodies.
    The fits Heimerdinger can give defensive coordinators with the options of 2WR, 2TE, Single-back set (and all the combinations of which TEs and RBs), or a single TE with Hall in the backfield, or a CJ/LW set make the availability of an extra (average-at-best) WR somewhat less important.
    I wouldn’t be surpirsed to see 5WRs on the opening day roster, but I’m not counting on it. Odds are we’ll keep all 4 RBs and TEs, but release one as soon as we pick up a better FA after the cutdowns.

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