Practice participation updates
We’ll get to A.J. Brown in a second, but there were a few of the Tennessee Titans’ rookies who didn’t practice on Tuesday.
Among them were linebackers Derick Roberson and D’Andre Walker, as well as right guard Nate Davis. Davis in particular didn’t practice on Monday or Tuesday, so that’s a situation to keep an eye on.
We’d guess these youngsters are going to get plenty of reps during the preseason Week 1 matchup against the Eagles, thus were given an extra day of maintenance beforehand.
Unfortunately for the Titans and their fans, A.J. Brown’s debut will have to wait at least another week. Brown got injured on the first day of practice and has yet to return. He won’t be making the trip to Philadelphia with the team, but he did recently say he was close to a return.
Rookie right guard Nate Davis is in a battle for the starting job with veteran Kevin Pamphile. While we’d assume Pamphile is currently the favorite for the job, having a great preseason will go a long way to helping Davis take it from him.
Davis has switched up his stance a bit to help him at the next level, and he’ll have to show he can be an asset in pass protection, as he’s already considered a solid run blocker out of the gate.
We’ll get a good idea of where Davis stands based on if he gets some first-team reps. Granted, that won’t make-or-break his chances at a starting job this early in the preseason, but it’ll be a good indication nonetheless.
It’ll be interesting to see how defensive back Amani Hooker is used during the preseason. He has the versatility to play both at safety and slot corner, but the Titans have him listed at the former position on the team’s unofficial depth chart.
With safeties Kenny Vaccaro and Kevin Byard locked-up long term, Hooker’s future appears to be at slot corner. Veteran slot man Logan Ryan is in the final year of his three-year pact and the Titans could view Hooker as his heir-apparent.
Hooker was an elite slot corner with Iowa, finishing as the highest-graded player in that spot in the FBS last season. Pro Football Focus recently said Hooker could “dominate at the NFL level.”
Running back Alex Barnes was riding the hype train into training camp, but things have slowed down considerably since then. The UDFA has been consistently outperformed by fellow back Jeremy McNichols, and the Kansas State product’s stock has taken a hit as a result.
After running back David Fluellen left limped off the field during Tuesday’s practice, the door has been cracked slightly ajar for Barnes and the rest of the team’s backs.
Of course, we don’t know the status of Fluellen’s injury, but a long-term problem would be the only way Barnes can make this roster over a back who also has the versatility to play fullback in 2019. Barnes is facing an uphill battle to say the least.
The Sam Houston State product finished tied for the FCS lead in total sacks with 15 last season. The Titans were able to nab him as a UDFA after he fell through the cracks of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Roberson has been very impressive in camp. His speed rush skills and bend have him beating offensive linemen on the regular, and there’s a reason for optimism in his rookie season.
Now he gets an opportunity at some actual game reps during the first week of the preseason and a chance to solidify his status on the 53-man roster.
We haven’t heard much from Walker during camp. The fifth-round pick is pretty much certain to make the roster barring something unforeseen, however he’s part of a group of linebackers that have great depth in 2019.
Walker’s best chance at action is as a backup, and he even has stiff competition there. Aside from Roberson, linebacker David Long is another guy who could take snaps away from the Georgia product.
The sixth-round pick is in the same situation as the aforementioned rookie linebackers: he’s buried on the depth chart behind a bunch of talented players.
Long has been the most quiet of the young Titans linebackers during camp. He’s going to have to do big things in the preseason if he wants to supplant both Walker and Roberson as a top option off the bench at the position.