The anticipation for the start of the 2016 NFL season grows daily as the start of training camp for the Tennessee Titans and the other thirty-one league teams is just mere days away.
The players, coaches, staff and other employees of the Titans are enjoying their final vacations and time away from the sport as they prepare themselves for the grind that is the NFL season. It is a long and taxing endeavor that requires the players to work both during the season and during the off season on their own.
The hope for the Titans is that each and every member of their current roster has done their work during this off time following OTA's and mini-camp. To that end, we witnessed the play during those two team practice periods and have some idea as to how the roster will work out once training camp begins.
Over the coming days we will take a daily look at each position on the Titans current roster and break down how we see the roster filling out in camp, Of course there is the chance that an individual player will step up and pass others during camp, and there is the very real possibility that there could be other players added to the roster as other teams decide their rosters.
We start at the top of the Titans roster, which is also the easiest position to rank, the quarterbacks.
STARTING QUARTERBACK: Marcus Mariota: This one is the biggest no-brainer on the roster. Mariota is the unquestioned starting quarterback and is fast becoming the teams unquestioned leader at the same time. While his rookie season had some rough moments- mostly because of missed games with injuries- his overall play was very encouraging.
In his rookie season Mariota completed 62.2% of his pass attempts, completing 230 of 370 passes for 2,818 yards with 19 TD's and 10 INT's. While the interception total needs improvement, the overall numbers are impressive considering the issues he was forced to face with poor play at wide receiver, a terrible offensive line and lack of a sound running game.
Some of those issues would seem to have been corrected with the additions of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. Still the offensive line seems to be a question mark going into the season. If the line can repair their issues and be a solid unit, Mariota could have a true breakout season.
BACKUP: Matt Cassel: Signed as a free-agent to be the veteran influence inside the quarterback room, Cassel appeared to be just that during OTA's and mini-camp. He is a solid backup who in his previous 11 NFL season has seen everything possible from defenses.
The Titans the fifth team for Cassel, and he has started 99 games in his career. During that time Cassel has been the full-time starter in just three of those season with his most successful year coming with the Patriots in 2008 where he completed 63.2% of his pass attempts in completing 327 of 516 passes for 3,693 yards with 21 TD's and 11 INT's.
Last season, in nine games as the starter in Dallas, Cassel 58.3% of his pass attempts, completing 119 of 204 passes for 1,276 with 5 TD's and 7 INTs.
Both Mariota and Cassel are locks for this roster, but the team could decide to carry just two quarterbacks into the season to allow them to carry an extra position player at some position.
THIRD STRING: Alex Tanney: Entering his third season in the NFL, Tanney has have limited chances to play, but impressed his coaches with his performance in relief during the Titans season finale last season in Indianapolis.
In that game, Tanney completed 10 of 14 passes (71.4%) for 99 yards with 1 TD and no INT's. His quarterback rating was 114.9 and while it was a very limited sample, it was encouraging enough to earn Tanney a chance to make the roster or the practice squad for the Titans.
FINAL ANALYSIS: As of now we feel that the Titans will go with just two quarterbacks, Mariota and Cassel on the opening roster to allow them to carry another player at another position of need. Tanney is one of our ten players, who in our opinion will find a place on the practice squad.
NOTE: Tomorrow we preview the running backs.