NASHVILLE – It’s hard to believe but we’re now two weekends away from the regular season opener in Cleveland.
The final week of the preseason will be a blur – Sunday vs. the Steelers at Nissan Stadium, and then Thursday night in Chicago.
We’re going to have a lot of action, and roster moves, in the near future.
Let’s discuss what’s on your mind in the latest Titans mailbag…
Jim Westbrook from Pasadena, California
Question: Hey Jim - remind us again how cut-downs work this year? Any notions about who's on the bubble?
Jim: Hi Jim. The process changed a few years back. Instead of teams cutting from 90 players to 75, and then from 75 to 53, all the moves are made at the same time. So the team will go from 90 to 53 by August 31 – a week from today. I’d say most of the decisions are probably made at this point, but a handful of guys will be playing for a potential 53-man roster spot in the next week, and others will be battling for practice squad spots. Coach Mike Vrabel said as much this week.
Nick Koos from Milford, Connecticut
Question: Hey Jim, first time. I know this is gonna sound crazy. What chance do you think Logan Whiteside has to make this team? Only after one game (I knew him a little in college) it's evident that he has more natural pocket presence than the other 2. Those guys just stay in one spot before taking off. It seems to me that it's impossible to teach cuz Marcus hasn't gotten any better at it. I hope Whiteside makes this team and who knows. No one wanted Marcus more than me, but I don't believe he can take us to the promise land anymore. Go Titans.
Jim: Hey Nick. Well, I think he has a pretty good chance of sticking on the 53. This is just me, without running it by the GM --- who wouldn’t tell me anyway. 😊 Here’s my thinking: The Titans don’t have a quarterback under contract for 2020. The deals for Marcus Mariota and Ryan Tannehill are up after this season. Logan is a guy the team can develop. So why not cut him, and put him on the practice squad and develop him, you might ask? Well, the team planned to do that with quarterback Luke Falk last year, and the Dolphins signed him after the Titans waived him. Personally, I think Logan has looked good enough in preseason games to earn himself a spot on someone’s 53 if the Titans cut him. He looked better than Falk in last year’s preseason. So, I’d keep him. Again, the GM is a lot smarter than I am, and it’s his call, not mine. He might feel like the team can’t afford to keep a guy on the 53 that won’t dress out on Sundays, as other positions may need the numbers. This decision is one of the most intriguing ones to me as we near roster decisions.
Clay Watts from Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Question: Who do you think will have the most receiving yards, Corey Davis or Delanie Walker?
Jim: I believe Delanie is going to go back to being his productive self, but I’ll go with Corey Davis. More potential for big gainers.
Josh Clark from Three Oaks, Michigan
Question: I’ve heard a lot about our defense being stellar, which is good, but I have two main question. 1. What does the timetable for Jeffery Simmons look like? Or is there one? 2. How is Mariota doing? If we want to make a run, he needs to take a big step forward from the past couple of years. How is he looking? Any improvement?
Jim: The Titans haven't provided a timetable on Simmons, and they won’t. Everyone recovers from ACLs differently. But I’ll say this: I’ve been impressed by what I’ve seen from him in his rehab work. He had surgery in February, and return dates are usually in the 7-9 month range. Some are sooner, some later. I’ll let you do the math. As for Marcus, he’s been mostly solid from what I’ve seen. The good news is his weapons are starting to return, which will obviously help.
Jim Kintzler from Roswell, Georgia
Question: Hi Jim. Many folks feel that for the Titans to take the next step, they need to make the playoffs and make a deep run. However, their schedule is stacked and loaded with tough teams especially Week 1-10 where I am having a tough time picking more than 2-3 wins unless the defense is a Top 5 defense. Browns, Colts, Chiefs, Chargers, Falcons, improved Jags team, improved Bills team etc.
Even if they are an improved team, that may not translate to wins due to tough schedule. Comments and what do they need to do to beat these teams?
Jim: Another Jim. What a gem of a name. No doubt the schedule is rough. At least it looks that way. But the NFL is so unpredictable – you never know for sure how teams will pan out. A year ago, the Jaguars were the popular AFC pick to go to the Super Bowl, and they finished last in the AFC South. So while some teams look good on paper, we’ll have to see how things play out. As for how to beat some of those teams, well, the Titans need to be more consistent in 2019. Winning against the Patriots, Eagles and Cowboys last year was great, but you can’t give them back with duds vs. Buffalo, Baltimore and Indy.
Robert Orr from Katy, Texas
Question: Hey Jim. Long time no write. My question is, with all the attention Lewan and Conklin are garnering, I don't think I've heard a single word about Rodger Saffold. How is he integrating and getting along with the boys? I felt like this was a very sleeper type pick up for us and he'll vastly improve our inside run game. Thanks in advance Jim!
Jim: Hey Robert. Rodger is settling in. Coaches watched his reps in early practices, but he’s starting to establish himself. He got beat for a sack against the Patriots, and it was ugly. But I thought he played well the rest of the game, and I think he’ll be solid this fall.
Les Lickiss from Waukon, Iowa
Question: Don't hear too much about Parker Hesse. How is he doing and do you think he will make the cut? Thank you for your time.
Jim: Hey Les. I think Parker’s been solid. He’s a converted defender, as I’m sure you know, so it’s been an adjustment in the NFL. But he’s a sturdy and solid blocker, and I’ve seen him improve. As for his chances of making the cut, frankly, I think it’s going to be hard. I get to four real quick when counting tight ends – Delanie Walker, Jonnu Smith, MyCole Pruitt and Anthony Firkser. And Ryan Hewitt is in the mix, too. Parker has practice squad eligibility, and that’s realistically probably his best shot.
Jimmy Dee from Battle Ground, Washington
Question: I have 2 questions. 1. Is there any hope that Nate Davis will get any practice before regular season? 2. I just read an article saying that the DL has been a surprise (positive) this off-season. Are you impressed with the DL players so far? Specifically, I'm concerned about DaQuan Jones and Austin Johnson and I'm hoping that they're stepping-up.
Jim: Hey Jimmy. Nate returned to practice this week, on a somewhat limited basis. He missed a lot of work, so that set him back in his bid to win a starting spot. As for Jones and Johnson, Vrabel talked recently about how much Johnson has improved, so that’s a big plus. Jones was already there in my mind – he’s a solid player who I expect to play well this fall.
Ronnie McNeil from McEwen, Tennessee
Question: What are the Titans going to do about switching networks from channel 2 to a station that will carry their games? Direct TV has stopped broadcasting ABC and we can't get the games now. I don't know if you are aware of the problem, but the viewers who watch are now in the dark on the games.
Jim: Hey Ronnie. I’m very aware. The good news this week is the game is on NBC. The final game against the Bears will be on ABC. As I’ve mentioned in here since the start of the preseason, fans in the Nashville area can watch the games on ABC streaming here on Titans Online or through GamePass.
Have a great weekend everyone!
Titans Online looks back at the all-time series between the Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers. (AP Photos)