In our continuing series preseason roster review, we examine the tight end position for the Tennessee Titans.
Unlike last season when then head coach Ken Whisenhunt surprised everyone by keeping five tight ends on the opening day roster, we do not expect this years tight end room to have that many players, or any surprises when the final cuts are made.
Currently the Titans roster contains six tight ends, with three of those players having nine or more years of service in the NFL. The other three have three years or less in the league.
This position seems very easy to handicap at this point, and there will not be any surprises in our picks.
STARTER- Delanie Walker: Another one of those no-brainers as Walker led the team in receptions and yards in route to a Pro-Bowl season in 2015. Walker was used sparingly in OTA's and mini-camp. not because of injury, but to limit the work on his body as he enters his eleventh year in the league.
Walker is the safety blanket for Marcus Mariota, and he will be an intricate part of the passing game in 2016. He looked great in the action he did see in mini-camp and according to Walker, he feels great and is physically ready to go.
BACKUPS- Craig Stevens and Anthony Fasano: I took some heat a while back on social media over my picking Fasano, but he is a solid player who has great hands and is a solid influence in the the locker room. He is in the last year of his contract, and while the thought of getting younger at the position is not wrong, none of the other three candidates are better than Fasano- though they are cheaper- but that's not a major concern because the Titans are still $20 plus million under the cap and don't need to cut higher priced veterans to gain space.
Fasano is a solid blocker, and more of a receiver than Stevens, and of course more proven than the three other tight ends on the roster.
Stevens is entering his ninth season and is the blocking tight end, though he is more than capable of catching the football and has been good when asked to do so.
PRACTICE SQUAD: Jerome Cunningham or Alex Ellis: Cunningham has played in nine games. starting three in his career and has practice squad eligibility remaining and Ellis, the former University of Tennessee player who produced an unspectacular college career where he managed just 14 receptions for 232 yards and one touchdown in his final two seasons in Knoxville.
Either player brings youth to the position and with a year to work and learn the system, they would be ready to step into the spot that will likely be vacated by Fasano when his contract expires.
OUT- Phillip Supernaw: There is some question as to the rules and if Supernaw does have any options left for practice squad eligibility. If he does fall into the exception then he would likely be the top choice for that spot, but again, there are questions and he is the only of the three players who is not clearly eligible.
Supernaw is a good special teams performer, but with the influx of new talent, there at others on the roster who can fill his role on special teams. He is well liked in the locker room but it seems he is the victim of a numbers crunch.