Time is running out for Titan rookies to make an impression and the final roster. The rookies have come a long way in the last 2 weeks, especially against the Arizona Cardinals. Here is where they stand after Saturday’s tilt against the Carolina Panthers.
Derrick Morgan (A) - For virtually no time in pads, practice, or preseason action prior to last Saturday, Morgan (1 tackle) looked disruptive and quick off the edge almost sacking Moore and giving Geoff Schwartz (Carolina Panther right tackle) all he could handle. I’m getting more and more excited about seeing Morgan harassing opposing passers this year.
Damian Williams (B-) - Williams again demonstrated the ability (2 receptions for 15 yards) to become a receiving project for the next few years (a la Lavelle Hawkins). However, Williams took a huge step backwards in the kick return battle, making several poor decisions to not field some punts (losing valuable field position) and losing a key fumble.
Rennie Curran (A) - This little linebacker is head and shoulders above his peers in his level of play and played at a high level against Carolina’s first team. His preseason resume demands a roster spot, with the potential to be a valuable future replacement for the aging David Thornton or Will Witherspoon. Are you paying attention, Mr. McRath?
Alterraun Verner (A-) - That dot in Jason McCourty’s rearview mirror just got bigger and took the shape of one Alterraun Verner. Solid tackling (4 tackles and 1 assist) and tough coverage have catapulted this phenom into the conversation of starting opposite Cortland Finnegan.
Robert Johnson (C) – Tick, tick, tick…
Rusty Smith (C-) - Chris Simms and Rusty Smith (6 for 11, 57 yards, 1 interception) look poised to battle one last time in the preseason finale for the #3 QB spot (if that is a spot to be had). Smith needs to protect the ball and make good decisions, because he definitely has the size and a big-time arm.
Myron Rolle (C-) – A quality special teams tackle was wiped out by a penalty, but that’s about all that can be said. However, for a Rhodes scholar this grade must feel like an F.
Marc Mariani (A-) - Simply put… wow! (2 receptions, 59 yards; 3 returns, 64 yards) Sharp decision-making, perfect routes, and remarkable sideline catches, is there anything this kid can’t do?
David Howard (F) - We have a Howard spotting (1 tackle), 3 weeks into the preseason. Unfortunately for Howard, this defensive line is as young and as talented as ever. Howard is a practice-teamer for sure.
LeGarette Blount (B-) - With the Titans playing from behind most of Blount’s time in the lineup, he still managed to reel off a couple of powerful runs (2 rushes for 13 yards). I have to admit, he has the makings to be a powerful change of pace. A big game next week would go a long way to landing him a role in the Titan backfield.
Experimenting with personnel and a short week left the Titans looking more vulnerable than I expect them to be come opening Sunday. The upcoming New Orleans game should answer all our questions and provide the rookies one final opportunity to make the grade.
Topics: Alterraun Verner, Carolina Panthers, Chris Simms, Cortland Finnegan, Damian Williams, David Howard, David Thornton, Derrick Morgan, Geoff Schwartz, Gerald McRath, Jason McCourty, Lavell Hawkins, LeGarrette Blount, Marc Mariani, Myron Rolle, New Orleans Saints, Rennie Curran, Robert Johnson, Rusty Smith, Tennessee Titans, Will Witherspoon