9 rookies who will play for the Tennessee Titans in Week 1

Tennessee Titans (Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images)
Tennessee Titans (Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images) /

Without getting too far ahead of ourselves, it certainly looks like Jon Robinson nailed the Tennessee Titans’ 2022 NFL Draft class.

If everything goes well Malik Willis shouldn’t see the field until 2023 or later depending on how Ryan Tannehill does this season. That should be music to the ears of Titans fans that have wanted a developmental quarterback for so long.

As anxious as you may be to see what Malik Willis can do, you don’t want to get into a situation like what the San Francisco 49ers have where they have realized that Trey Lance might be a two-year project and now they are hedging their bets with Jimmy Garoppolo.

Despite the fact that Willis should be focused on progressing like we saw during the preseason, there could still have been as many as 12 rookies that could have suited up in the season opener against the New York Giants.

Two of them have either already been ruled out or are likely to be scratched on gameday in linebacker Chance Campbel and running back Julius Chestnut. Theo Jackson is another player who makes sense, but I will talk more about him later. So that leaves nine left with a chance to play.

How likely are these rookies to play for the Tennessee Titans?

There are three different categories here for how likely the rookies are to play.

The clear locks for game day are the guys that are either starters or they have a clear role on offense or defense. Those six guys are Treylon Burks, Roger McCreary, Nicholas Petit-Frere, Chig Okonkwo, Kyle Philips, and Ryan Stonehouse.

Two players that are right on the fringe are running back Hassan Haskins and cornerback Tre Avery.

The top two running back spots are locked in with Derrick Henry as the primary back and Dontrell Hillard as the third down back. It makes a lot of sense to keep Haskins available in case you need someone to back up either position or if it is a blowout one way or another and you don’t want those two to take unnecessary hits late in the game.

On top of that Haskins has been a special teams player in college and it was part of what the Tennessee Titans liked about him coming out, so it just makes sense that he is active unless there is a number crunch somewhere else.

With Elijah Molden and Lonnie Johnson out, the depth at DB has taken a hit and Avery could be active just because they don’t have a lot of guys sitting in the wings considering how many DBs the Tennessee Titans normally play.

The last two players on this list are guys that are on the practice squad, but elevations make sense because of what they could offer the team.

Theo Jackson stands out as the perfect replacement for Elijah Molden and Lonnie Johnson because he is going to be one of those hybrid slot cornerbacks/third safety players that come out in dime defense.

However, I believe that Josh Gordon will be a game day elevation and that means that there is only one spot for another rookie to join him on the game day roster.

The player that makes the most sense is rookie EDGE David Anenih who was mentioned by name by Tennessee Titans HC Mike Vrabel early in the week and by DC Shane Bowen on Friday. Given his athleticism and what he put on tape in the preseason, he deserves a shot to be a designated pass rusher on defense and you can probably get something out of him on special teams as well.