Should Rusty Smith Make Tennessee Titans Week 1 53-Man Roster?


Aug 17, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Tennessee Titans quarterback Rusty Smith (11) throws a pass in the fourth quarter of a preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Is there any point in keeping a No. 3 quarterback on the Tennessee Titans Week 1, 53-man roster? Fourth-year veteran Rusty Smith entered preseason competition as the only direct challenger for that position. Although the Titans released Nathan Enderle, Smith must compete for his job with players who are competing for other offensive skill-position talents.

Let’s take a peak at some of my roster projections from Jul. 25-26, offense and defense THESE AREN’T CURRENT PROJECTIONS…but they’re close enough to debate my point:

QB: Jake Locker, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Rusty Smith (3-3)
RB: Chris Johnson, Shonn Greene, Jalen Parmele (3-6)
WR: Kenny Britt, Justin Hunter, Kendall Wright, Nate Washington, Damian Williams, Marc Mariani (6-12)
TE: Delanie Walker, Taylor Thompson, Craig Stevens, Jack Doyle (4-16)
OL (Starters): Michael Roos, Andy Levitre, Fernando Velasco, Chance Warmack, David Stewart (5-21)
OL (Reserves): Brian Schwenke, Byron Stingily, Mike Otto, Rob Turner (4-25)

DE: Derrick Morgan, Kamerion Wimbley, Lavar Edwards, Ropati Pitoitua, Karl Klug (5-30)
DT: Jurrell Casey, Mike Martin, Sammie Lee Hill, Antonio Johnson (4-34)
ILB: Colin McCarthy, Moise Fokou, Tim Shaw (3-37)
OLB: Akeem Ayers, Zach Brown, Zaviar Gooden, Scott Solomon (4-41)
CB: Jason McCourty, Alterraun Verner, Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Coty Sensabaugh, Tommie Campbell, Khalid Wooten (6-47)
S: Michael Griffin, Bernard Pollard, George Wilson (3-50)
ST: Rob Bironas, Brett Kern, Beau Brinkley (3-53)

Roster projections are split into 25 offensive players, 25 defensive players and three specialists. These projections are still reasonable, although the first two preseason games would lead to some changes toward the back-end of the roster. (e.g. adding Jackie Battle over Jalen Parmele, Quinn Johnson over Jack Doyle). A few exclusions were Darius Reynaud, Michael Preston, Kevin Walter, Chris Spencer, Battle and Johnson.

A Marc Mariani injury has complicated things. Do the Titans retain Darius Reynaud as a return specialist or do they use a combination of Damian Williams and Khalid Wooten until Mariani returns? If they keep Reynaud, does Battle remain as a true No. 3 running back? Where does Preston fit into this picture? How realistic is zero true fullbacks?

Here’s the problem with keeping Smith: If the Titans lost both of their top two quarterbacks, then (insert Jadeveon Clowney joke here). Unlike the 2010 Pittsburgh Steelers, the Titans defense isn’t supporting a No. 3 quarterback. Maybe a Smith-led Titans team can beat someone like the 2012 New York Jets. Not a playoff team. So what’s the point of keeping him?

Keeping Smith is using a roster spot on a lost cause. The Titans may as well use that spot on positional talent that would serve as extra depth for any injured supporting cast around Jake Locker or Ryan Fitzpatrick. Saving a Preston or Walter as a game-day inactive makes more sense than a No. 3 quarterback who hasn’t taken a meaningful snap since 2010.

Is there a peace of mind with having Smith—a fourth-year veteran who has spent his entire career with the same organization—as a No. 3 quarterback? Does Locker’s injury history play a role in this decision? Are there any quarterbacks who this team could develop as future No. 2s on the practice squad?

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