NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The depth chart is unofficial, but it's part of what the Tennessee Titans have to put out weekly, so changes to it are not insignificant.

In the first edition of it since cuts, the waiver claims and signings that followed, there are some changes and developments.
  • Blidi Wreh-Wilson is the second starting cornerback, with Coty Sensabaugh listed behind him. Earlier Monday coach Ken Whisenhunt said he wasn't willing to reveal a winner in their battle yet. This indicates it's Wreh-Wilson with Sensabaugh working as the nickelback.
  • Rookie running back Bishop Sankey is now the No. 2 running back, still behind Shonn Greene but now ahead of Dexter McCluster. All three will be part of the rotation and game plans and matchups will do a lot to dictate their usage.
  • The Titans' base offense had been listed as two-back. It's now listed as two-tight, with Delanie Walker and Craig Stevens as starters and fullback Jackie Battle listed behind Walker with a "FB" designation.
  • Al Woods is now listed as the second nose tackle behind Sammie Hill, which opened up a second-team slot for rookie end DaQuan Jones. Both Woods and Jones can play inside or out.
  • McCluster is listed as the punt returner while Leon Washington is the kick returner. They back each other up.
  • Of the five new additions: Ryan Succop is the kicker, Brandon Harris is second-team at corner behind Jason McCourty, outside linebacker Quentin Groves is third behind Kamerion Wimbley and Akeem Ayers and receivers Kris Dunham and T.J. Graham are third team.
  • While Whisenhunt said earlier Monday that first-round pick Taylor Lewan will be the first option if the Titans need a tackle or a guard, he's listed as left tackle Michael Roos' backup, with Byron Stingily behind right tackle Michael Oher and Chris Spencer behind all three starting interior linemen.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Five new players joined the Titans since they initially shaved their roster to 53 on Saturday.

Each comes from a situation where he'd worked with, or been evaluated on his old team by, someone currently with Tennessee.
  • WR T.J. Graham was a third-round pick of the Bills in 2012. Titans assistant wide receivers coach Kevin Patullo was quality control coach and assistant wide receivers coach in Buffalo in 2012.
  • WR Kris Durham was part of the Detroit Lions in 2012. Titans wide receives coach Shawn Jefferson held the same post there that season.
  • CB Brandon Harris was a second-round choice by Houston in 2011. Titans pro scouting coordinator Brian Gardner was director of pro personnel for the Texans during all three of Harris' seasons there.
  • OLB Quentin Groves played in 2012 in Arizona and in 2013 in Cleveland. Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt held the same role for the Cardinals in 2012 and Titans defensive coordinator was Arizona's defensive coordinator. Horton was then Cleveland's defensive coordinator in 2013.
  • K Ryan Succop was a seventh-round draft pick by Kansas City in 2009. Titans assistant special teams coach Steve Hoffman was the Chiefs special teams coach when the Chiefs brought Succop aboard.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. –- Asked about adding veterans for depth, Tennessee Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt talked of youth.

"This league has become about rookies playing, they have to play early, that's an important piece of it," he said at his Monday press conference. "So you always want to try to get your rookies ready to play. ... You will at some point have to start young players."

[+] EnlargeTaylor Lewan
AP Photo/Mark HumphreyTitans No. 1 pick Taylor Lewan will be the primary backup at both tackle and guard.
But the Titans will start the season with Michael Roos as their left tackle and Michael Oher as their right tackle. I have no dispute with Taylor Lewan being behind them. And I understand the Titans using the 11th pick in the draft on him.

I wouldn't necessarily tout how rookies need to play early as I prepared not to play him, however.

Whisenhunt reiterated that Lewan is "a good young player." The rookie is the Titans' primary backup at both tackle and guard.

"There will be some roles for us where he can play," Whisenhunt said. "I think both of our (starting) tackles had good camps and played well. And I think Taylor played a number of position because we obviously felt like he was going to have a hard time unseating them, so we wanted to prepare him to play guard or either tackle. I feel like we got that done.

"He played a lot of snaps. He's improving. I feel like he did a lot of good things, did some dumb things, which you expect from young players. If you told me Taylor had to play tomorrow, I'd be comfortable with that."

Second-round running back Bishop Sankey and fourth-round defensive lineman DaQuan Jones will get some work as part of rotations at their positions.

The Titans didn't have a third-round pick.

Fourth-round defensive back Marqueston Huff and fifth-round inside linebacker Avery Williamson figure to be just special teamers this year barring injuries in front of them.

And sixth-round quarterback Zach Mettenberger won't play if things go according to the Titans plan.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. –- Cairo Santos did more to win the Kansas City Chiefs' kicking job than Ryan Succop did to lose it.

Succop hit on all three of his preseason field goal attempts and got the Chiefs touchbacks on five if his eight kickoffs.

Succop was costlier, however, and will turn 28 this month, so Kansas City went with Santos.

The Tennessee Titans decided they are safer with Succop as their kicker than with undrafted rookie Travis Coons

Titans assistant special teams coach Steve Hoffman was special teams coach in Kansas City when the Chiefs spent a seventh-round pick on Succop out of South Carolina in 2009.

Hoffman helped develop Succup then and clearly prefers him now to his latest project.

The Titans aren’t good enough to play it risky at kicker. I imagine they will be in several games decided by a field goal or less.

Succup has been there and done it. He should give them an increased degree of confidence.

Titans give Ryan Succop 1-year deal

September, 1, 2014
Sep 1
[+] EnlargeRyan Succop
Peter G. Aiken/Getty ImagesRyan Succop, who was released by the Chiefs on Saturday, has made 81 percent of his field goals over the past five seasons.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans preferred to go into the season with an experienced kicker, not with an undrafted rookie. They feel they got the best one still available in Ryan Succop.

The Titans agreed to a one-year deal with Succop on Monday and waived rookie Travis Coons to make space.

"There were a number of guys that were available or that were out there," coach Ken Whisenhunt said of Succop. "He was the one that we had rated the highest, so we pursued him and we got him. That to me is what's important."

Kicker was the fifth and final player Tennessee added after the NFL deadline to trim the roster to 53 on Saturday. They claimed two wide receivers in Kris Durham and T.J. Graham and cornerback Brandon Harris off waivers Sunday and followed by adding linebacker Quentin Groves and Succop on Monday.

Whisenhunt, in his first season as head coach in Tennessee, said they're trying to improve the roster and had opportunities because of the players available.

(Read full post)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Quentin Groves was supposed to help boost the Jacksonville Jaguars pass rush to new heights.

In 2008, Jacksonville drafted defensive end Derrick Harvey in the first round and outside linebacker Groves in the second.

Harvey lasted three seasons with the Jags, Groves two.

Since then, Groves has played for the Oakland Raiders, Arizona Cardinals and Cleveland Browns, and Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Ray Horton worked with him on the Browns last year.

Groves has played in 84 career games, recording 8.5 sacks. He played in five games last year and didn’t start any of them.

Still, Groves should be an upgrade over Patrick Bailey in the depth department after agreeing to a deal with the Titans. Bailey was a strong special-teamer but not much of an option on defense.

The Titans start Kamerion Wimbley and Derrick Morgan at outside linebacker in their new 3-4 defense. Shaun Phillips and Akeem Ayers are next in line. It seems they are down on Ayers, who hasn't been productive. I expect Groves could challenge for that fourth spot.

The Titans have not been shy about finding people from outside to bolster the roster.

Since they cut to 53 players, they’ve added Groves, receivers T.J. Graham and Kris Durham and cornerback Brandon Harris.

Per Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean, they are also set to sign veteran kicker Ryan Succop to take the spot currently held by undrafted rookie Travis Coons.

Titans assistant special-teams coach Steve Hoffman helped Succop in Kansas City, where he became a quality player.

Reviews of Titans' three newcomers

September, 1, 2014
Sep 1
Sunday, the Tennessee Titans added three new players with waivers claims. I asked my colleagues who cover the teams where those players were cut for an assessment of them.

Mike Rodak, Buffalo Bills reporter, on WR T.J. Graham:

"Graham never fully emerged the way the Bills envisioned when they traded up to select him in the third round in 2012. His blazing speed can't be denied but Graham hasn't shown other traits needed to be a starting receiver. He struggled with dropped passes in training camp this summer and isn't considered a strong route-runner. Graham underproduced last season, flashing the occasional big play but not offering much else. He's undersized and has a small catch radius, so he's best when used on screens or if he can run past a defender. He won't win many 1-on-battles with defensive backs when the ball is in the air."

Mike Rothstein, Detroit Lions reporter on WR Kris Durham:

"Kris Durham is not going to be your No. 1 or No. 2 receiver, but he's a tall target with capable hands who could be good in the red zone or as a No. 3 or No. 4 receiver. He isn't going to blow by anyone, but he's a good possession receiver who will also be good in the locker room. He was somewhat miscast last season after Nate Burleson's injury in Detroit and was forced into a role that didn't suit him. It was somewhat surprising he got cut by the Lions, considering he started in place of Calvin Johnson during preseason games. He should be able to find a role with the Titans and he can play special teams if asked to."

Tania Ganguli, Houston Texans reporter on CB Brandon Harris:

"The Texans needed more than they got out of Harris, who they drafted in the second round of the 2011 draft. It got to the point where he was being picked on even in preseason games. Houston had hoped to make him their slot DB, but his coverage skills were lacking both in the slot and outside."
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans added two wide receivers and a cornerback with waiver claims after teams shaved their rosters to 53.

In are receivers Kris Durham from Detroit and corner Brandon Harris from Houston, along with receiver T.J. Graham from Buffalo, whose arrival was reported earlier in the day.

The Titans cut receiver Michael Preston, center Steve Vallos and cornerback Khalid Wooten to make room for the three newcomers.

Durham was a fourth-round choice by the Seattle Seahawks in 2011 out of Georgia. In one season with the Seahawks and two with the Lions, he caught 49 passes for 645 yards and three touchdowns.

He brings quality size at 6-foot-6 and 215 pounds.

Harris never panned out for the Texans, who traded up to draft him out of Miami in the second round in 2011. He’s consistently struggled in coverage for the Texans.

Six players who were with the Titans in training camp are now members of the team’s practice squad: OL Justin McCray, T Will Poehls, DL Chigbo Anunoby, LB Brandon Copeland, RB Antonio Andrews and WR Rico Richardson.

Offensive tackle Jeff Adams, who was a Titans practice-squad player last year and was among the players the team cut Saturday, was claimed by Houston.

Cornerback Micah Pellerin, cut in the roster reduction to 75, signed with the Dallas Cowboys' practice squad. The Titans claimed Pellerin off waivers from Dallas last season.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Titans claimed wide receiver T.J. Graham, who was cut by the Buffalo Bills, according to ESPN’s Adam Caplan.

The roster move to make room for the speedster is not yet known, but it seems likely the team will cut fifth receiver Derek Hagan.

Graham was a 2012 third-rounder out of NC State. In two seasons he caught 54 passes for 683 yards and three touchdowns.

I asked Greg Cosell of NFL Films about Graham.

"Vertical speed guy, nothing more,” Cosell said. “He can run."
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- With each waiver claim the Tennessee Titans submit, a corresponding roster move is attached.

If they are awarded a player with their claim, the attached cut is executed and the roster remains at 53.

The most susceptible player is center Steve Vallos. He’s the third center behind starter Brian Schwenke and Chris Spencer and he’s still around as insurance as Spencer recovers from an ankle injury that cost him most of the preseason.

We can look at Vallos’s presence in two ways:
  1. If the Titans believed they needed insurance for Spencer on Saturday, they’ll still need insurance for Spencer on Sunday and Monday and probably through the practice week. While Vallos is probably the 53rd guy on the roster, they might feel the need to stick with him for a while as they gauge Spencer. (Vallos is scheduled to make $730,000 this season, but only counts $570,000 against the cap.)
  2. Keeping a player for an extra day decreases the chance he gets picked up elsewhere. Teams have sorted through the names that have come free and have done what they need to do to try to bring in the ones they want. Vallos is in his seventh season. He would be a free agent when cut and would not have to pass through waivers. But a center-needy team might address the need in today’s moves and then be less likely to change course again Monday. That means he might remain available if the Titans need him again.

I think the next two players at risk are receiver Derek Hagan and linebacker/special-teamer Patrick Bailey.

The Titans should be able to find upgrades at both those spots.
Most significant move: The Tennessee Titans made the surprise decision to keep defensive back Khalid Wooten and center Steve Vallos. Keeping Vallos is a shock. He appears to be temporary insurance for backup center Chris Spencer, who missed much of the preseason with an ankle injury. I think once the Titans are confident he’s right, they will move on to someone else at another position. The Titans have nine offensive linemen and are more likely to carry eight considering that first-rounder Taylor Lewan is the backup and both tackle and both guard slots and would take over if there was an injury anywhere but center.

Some value: Defensive end Lavar Edwards was a fifth-round draft pick in 2013 but didn’t fit the new scheme. The Titans got a conditional seventh-round pick from the Dallas Cowboys for him rather than simply cutting him, a good development. The Titans are deep on the defensive line where they have talented players such as rookie DaQuan Jones, free-agent addition Al Woods, Karl Klug, Mike Martin. Nine are starters but they provide some serious depth. Antonio Johnson (knee) was placed on IR.

What’s next: The Titans need better depth at receiver, where I expect they will look to upgrade on Derek Hagan as their fifth. They need better depth at cornerback, where Tommie Campbell was cut and the remaining guys behind the top three -- rookie Marqueston Huff, defensive back Khalid Wooten -- have little or no experience. They could look to a veteran instead of Travis Coons at kicker but I think the Titans will go with him in the opener.

Titans cuts: T Jeff Adams, CB Ri’Shard Anderson, RB Antonio Andrews, DL Chigbo Anunoby, K Maikon Bonani, CB Tommie Campbell, TE Chase Coffman, LB Brandon Copeland, QB Dominique Davis, DE Marcus Dixon, LB Moise Fokou, WR Marc Mariani, G Justin McCray, FB Collin Mooney, OL Eric Olsen, T Will Poehls, WR Rico Richardson, WR Brian Robiskie, TE Jason Schepler, CB Winston Wright.

Other moves: Traded DE Lavar Edwards to Dallas. Placed DT Antonio Johnson on IR.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Undrafted rookie Travis Coons has won the Tennessee Titans kicking job, at least for the time being.

Coons is on the roster, while Maikon Bonani is being cut, per Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

We’ll have to see how it pans out from here. Tennessee had three veteran free-agent kickers in for workouts recently. Jay Feely played for Ken Whisenhunt in Arizona. Rian Lindell and Garrett Hartley were also in Nashville.

I suspect the Titans intend to move forward with Coons but will be ready to change directions if he’s not good from the start.

Tennessee parted ways with pricey veteran Rob Bironas in the spring. They brought back Bonani, who showed a huge leg as the team’s extra kicker in training camp in 2013. Then Coons was their choice of all the undrafted kickers coming out of college.

Assistant special-teams coach Steve Hoffman has a good track record developing young kickers. Dan Carpenter and Ryan Succop are among the successful kickers he helped develop.
Reading the coverage of the Tennessee Titans ...

The Titans don’t think their preseason defensive play foreshadows what is to come, says John Glennon of The Tennessean.

To which I say: We’ll find out on Sept. 7 in Kansas City just how much a game plan can help for a group that had too many botched third downs, missed tackles and penalties in the preseason.

Tommie Campbell and Marc Mariani made graceful exits after learning they were cut, says Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

Bishop Sankey looks to be rounding into form, says John Glennon of The Tennessean.

Tight end Taylor Thompson is playing lighter, and it helped him in a solid preseason, says David Boclair of the Nashville Post.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- When the Tennessee Titans hit the field next week to install a game plan for the season opener in Kansas City, they should be at full strength.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said Friday he doesn’t anticipate anybody missing practice next week.

That means backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst (pinkie), defensive end Ropati Pitoitua (broken hand) and fullback/running back Jackie Battle (neck/shoulder) will be OK. Defensive linemen Mike Martin (hamstring) and Antonio Johnson (knee) should practice as well, presuming they are both on the roster.

I expect they will be.

The Titans avoided new injuries to significant players Thursday night in their loss to Minnesota, largely because their most significant players sat out.

Fantasy: Bishop Sankey

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29


Christopher Harris analyzes Bishop Sankey's draft value.