The preseason is over, and for several of the Titan rookies, so too is their tenure with the Titans. There have been plenty of practices, preseason games (Seahawks, Cardinals, Panthers, and Saints), and all of training camp to prove themselves worthy. So, here are my final PASS / FAIL ratings for the Titan rookies:
Derrick Morgan (PASS) – As a first-round pick, Morgan was never in any jeopardy. Still, even with an injury sidelining him early, he has shown promise and will be a regular in the defensive line rotation this season. I hope to see him as a permanent fixture as early as after the bye week moving forward.
Damian Williams (PASS) – Throughout the preseason Williams has run free and created space for himself in opposing secondaries, and I expect nothing less in the spot duty he’ll receive throughout this year. Although his return skills never came around, he is still a wonderful addition to a flourishing wide receiver group that has a promising future.
Rennie Curran (PASS) – The little linebacker that could has puffed his way to the top of the hill and will coast onto the Titans roster as a special-teamer. Gerald McRath and David Thornton’s absences might provide him some early opportunities, but either way, he’ll spend this year honing his craft and should be a solid depth player for years to come.
Alterraun Verner (PASS) – This last week tempers expectations for the red hot defensive back. His tackling, line of scrimmage cover skills, and ball-hawking ability will land him a spot over Tye Hill and the disappointing Ryan Mouton in the Titan secondary. He will be a quality dime package corner and could be much, much more next season.
Robert Johnson (PASS) – Honestly, this has more to do with Nick Schommer blowing his punt blocking responsibilities than it does the play of Robert Johnson in this preseason. With that being said, Johnson does not make mistakes and at several points landed some big hits on opposing receivers crossing the middle. He is a special-teamer for sure, no more.
Rusty Smith (PASS) – Smith led the Titans on a scoring drive in essentially his one opportunity to do so, while it took Chris Simms 3 possessions. Simms also fumbled a snap in the red zone and was sacked twice to Smith’s zero. If the Titans keep 3 QBs on their 53 man roster, Smith will be that guy.
Myron Rolle (FAIL) – No one wanted to see this guy succeed more than me. I hoped he would challenge Chris Hope and eventually replace him at safety in a few years, but it never translated. It would be nice if the Titans could keep such a positive locker room influence around, but I am not sure the practice squad will be enough for such a driven young man.
Marc Mariani (PASS) – For a seventh-round pick, this is a raving success story. Mariani has excelled in both his role as returner and receiver. Every game and every possession he had was something special. It is great to see a hard working, scrappy, receiver wearing #83 on the field again for the Titans.
David Howard (FAIL) – Poor Howard. He grabbed his first sack of the preseason, enough to land him a roster spot on some NFL teams, will miss the Titan roster for sheer bad luck. With Brown, Jones, Hayes, Ford, Haye, Ball, Babin, Marks, Brock, and Morgan, there is simply not enough room in the budget to feed them all at pregame meals.
LeGarette Blount (PASS) – Anyone can run through an open hole (Ringer, Gado, Pearman). However, what the Titans want and need is a guy who can run when there is not a hole. And although Blount has his shortcomings; a short fuse, a lack of versatility, and a bad case of the backfield jitters, at the end of the day he is powerful, persistent, and cheap.
The Tennessee Titans have never looked deeper and younger than they did this preseason. If Jeff Fisher and company can motivate these young players to play at a high level as cohesive units, this team is going to be a handful every Sunday on both sides of the ball.