AFC South: Khalid Wooten

Titans Camp Report: Day 10

August, 4, 2014
8/04/14
7:17
PM ET
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Tennessee Titans training camp:
  • The Titans got no one injured Monday in a joint practice with the Falcons at their facility, always the best development to come out of a preseason practice. Defensive linemen Antonio Johnson and Mike Martin and tight end Dorin Dickerson came in with injuries and didn’t practice.
  • The first fight turned out to be the only big fight. It came as the Titans and Falcons worked on punt returns and Coty Sensabaugh swiped a helmet off Robert McClain and a lot of players from both teams came onto the scene to get involved. It may have settled itself down, but Tommie Campbell came flying in to shove two Falcons, Bernard Pollard got involved and Ri’Shard Anderson came in with helmet in hand and swung it into Atlanta’s Ricardo Allen “We got it over and out of the way and moved on,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “We thought it might come, it came early and we settled down.” Whisenhunt doesn’t fine players for practice fights, but Anderson should be fined for a foolhardy and dangerous move.
  • Later, Falcons center Joe Hawley got tossed by officials for his role in a smaller scrap with Michael Griffin.
  • Whisenhunt was audibly upset when Falcons defensive end Osi Umenyiora hit Jake Locker’s arm on a pass. “He grabbed his arm, he hit his hand,” Whisenhunt said. “Osi apologized. He knows he can’t do that.”
  • Marqueston Huff looked like he’s got the potential to be a quality gunner on punt returns. I saw him quickly burst between Kimario McFadden and Jordan Mabin to get en route in a hurry.
  • On a very early snap in one-on-ones matching Titans defensive backs against Falcons receivers, Jason McCourty was right with Roddy White on a quick throw from Matt Ryan, got an arm in and watched the ball pop loose. Another pass for White with McCourty on him was overthrown. McCourty was very solid in that period. The rest of the defensive backs were not as good. Griffin drew two flags for contact. (Khalid Wooten made a nice play and had a near pick of a Jeff Matthews pass for Tramaine Thompson. I think Wooten is steadily improving though he's not playing against the high-caliber guys.)
  • In one-on-ones, the Titans' offense connected on a big play early as Justin Hunter ran away from corner Robert McClain, collecting a throw from Charlie Whitehurst. Hunter caught another deep one from Zach Mettenberger.
  • Locker didn’t throw deep much, as the Falcons seemed to be offering open stuff underneath far more often. Some plays worked great against it. Locker hit Kendall Wright out of the slot and Wright ran away from Josh Wilson for what would have been a touchdown. On another play, Dexter McCluster worked into open space in the short middle and had a ton of space from there. Whitehurst found room for some shots. One of them connected up the right side with Derek Hagan over corner Javier Arenas and safety Sean Baker.
  • In many practices Locker still seems to have one moment that could be deadly. He held the ball and shuffled left as the pocket began to collapse and threw for Delanie Walker. But Desmond Trufant got to it and dropped what should have been a pick. “For any quarterback, there is always at least one you wish you could have back,” he said when I asked him about that specific play.
  • Both of the Titans' kickers attempted field goals against the Falcons field goal defense from 33, 36, 39, 42 and 46 yards. Travis Coons made them all, Maikon Bonani missed his attempt from 46 wide right.
  • Andy Levitre took three snaps in each team period before rookie Taylor Lewan replaced him. Levitre had his appendix removed on July 24. He still didn’t participate in the high contact one-on-one pass-rush drills.
  • In one team period, the offense worked exclusively in “penny,” its three-cornerback, one-safety package.
  • Falcons receiver Harry Douglas made a catch over Sensabaugh after the Falcons had the Titans jumping around before the snap. Derrick Morgan started with his hand down at left end, stood up and backed out, then returned to his initial position while multiple defenders shouted out multiple signals and waved each other around in what appeared to be confusion.
  • Akeem Ayers made a couple plays, including batting down a pass from Sean Renfree. In one-on-ones he made a great spin move against tackle Lamar Holmes that got him to the quarterback. But in a seven-on-seven period, T.J. Yates threw to running back Devonta Freeman and Ayers had no chance against him in space.
  • Avery Williamson impressively ran step for step with running back Josh Vaughan on a deep route and the pass glanced on the rookie linebacker’s helmet.
  • Moise Fokou worked as high in the linebacker rotation as I can remember, pairing with Zaviar Gooden as the inside tandem with the second team at least some.
  • On a snap where DaQuan Jones and Al Woods were the two defensive linemen, neither put a hand on the ground. The Titans played that one with everyone starting off standing up.
  • On one snap of nickel where nose tackle Sammie Hill came off the field, the standing up, off-the-line outside linebacker Kamerion Wimbley actually lined up inside of right end Jurrell Casey.
  • There were a bunch of penalty flags on both sides. The most popular offense was illegal contact by defensive backs. The second biggest was offside. More to come on that
  • It’s always amazing to see how many guys know each other when two rosters of 90 and their coaching staffs combine. Titans linebacker Zach Brown saw Yates and exclaimed, “T.J, what’s up buddy?” Atlanta offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter chatted with Hagan. Falcons owner Arthur Blank got off his cart to hug Titans tight ends coach Mike Mularkey, who used to be Atlanta’s offensive coordinator. A lot of it was pre-practice, a lot was during the kicking period when non-special teamers had time to chat. I watched Chris Spencer and Griffin talk with Devin Hester as Pollard shouted to the Titans, “Y'all be careful with making friends right now.”
  • Find pictures at pkuharsky on Instagram.
  • The Titans are off Tuesday, then have an open practice at 9:20 a.m. CT Wednesday.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- More notable than the guys from Titans training camp who are on the initial list of practice squaders is the one who isn’t: Rusty Smith.

But Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean tweeted that Smith is expected to accept the Titans' offer and join up.

Smith cleared waivers unclaimed, and while his feelings might have been hurt, an offer to join anyone else’s practice squad probably wouldn’t have wound up better for him.

The Titans do really like him, they just decided they didn’t need three quarterbacks on the roster. And they don't. Functionally, he will still hold the No. 3 role and if Jake Locker or Ryan Fitzpatrick is hurt and can't suit up, the Titans will sign Smith to their roster and dress him for a game.

If there was another practice squad chance, he might have had weaker quarterbacks in front of him at No. 1, No. 2 or both. But he’d have had to move and he’d have had to learn a new offense and won over a new coaching staff.

There could have been more reward, but there certainly would have been more risk.

Once he signs, the Titans will have filled six of their eight practice-squad spots, all with players who were with them in camp.

That list:

DT Stefan Charles
FB Collin Mooney
WR Rashad Ross
LB Jonathan Willard
CB Khalid Wooten

All of the players were with the Titans during training camp this season. Four of them were undrafted rookies while Wooten was a seventh-round draft pick.

Ross' selection speaks especially highly of him, because the Titans have a deep group of receivers and kept six on the 53-man roster.

Tennessee Titans cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
8/31/13
6:30
PM ET
Most significant move: Marc Mariani came back from a vicious broken leg suffered in the preseason in 2012. A shoulder injury suffered in the preseason opener cost him the rest of camp and the preseason, and the Titans put him in injured-reserve Saturday, ending his season. He might have been ready as soon as Week 3, but the Titans clearly didn't like the uncertainty. They could have waived him injured, exposing him to a claim. In that scenario, St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher, who was instrumental in the Titans drafting the receiver/returner out of Montana in 2010, might have wanted him. But the Rams or anyone else would have had to have added him without getting to examine the injury, and Mariani's not under contract beyond this year so a new team could have been at risk for picking up a year's salary and getting nothing out of him. If he wasn’t claimed, he would have reverted to Tennessee’s IR. By putting Mariani directly on IR, he is assured of his $575,000 base salary this season but won’t play anywhere. The move means Darius Reynaud is the returner. He showed himself to be only the team’s fifth-best running back during camp, but sticks to handle punts and kickoffs.

Wildcard: If Rusty Smith clears waivers, the Titans will want the fourth-year quarterback back on their practice squad. He’s not been on the active roster for nine games in any of his first three seasons, so he retains his practice squad eligibility. If Smith is claimed, the Titans will need to find a young quarterback for the spot, who they can work to develop as insurance and who will be able to offer an option as the No. 2 if Jake Locker or Ryan Fitzpatrick suffers an injury that results in any missed time. One team that won't claim Smith -- his hometown Jacksonville Jaguars.

What's next: I could see the Titans shopping for a veteran safety as they sift through cuts. Seventh-round pick Daimion Stafford is on the roster now, but the Titans are heavy with strong safeties and light at free safety. They’d probably like better balance and Stafford could ultimately land on the practice squad. With 10 defensive linemen plus strongside linebacker Akeem Ayers in line to play a good share of end, the last pure end -- Keyunta Dawson -- is hardly a lock at this point. Only one injured Titan, rookie linebacker Zaviar Gooden, is likely to miss the season opener at Pittsburgh.

Tennessee Titans cuts: S Al Afalava, T Daniel Baldridge, TE Brandon Barden (injured), DT Stefan Charles, DT Zach Clayton, TE Jack Doyle, LB Gary Guyton, DT DaJohn Harris, S Corey Lynch, FB Collin Mooney, DE Nigel Nicholas, RB Jalen Parmele, WR Rashad Ross, LB Tim Shaw, QB Rusty Smith, LB-DE Scott Solomon, G Kasey Studdard, WR Dontel Watkins, LB Jonathan Willard, CB Khalid Wooten, C-G Fernando Velasco

Placed on Injured-reserve: WR/returner Marc Mariani.

My 53-man Tennessee Titans roster

August, 30, 2013
8/30/13
3:14
PM ET
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Rather than tell you this is what’s going to happen, I’ll tell you this is what would happen if I had influence in the Tennessee Titans meeting room when final cuts will be decided.

Some cuts are already trickling out from Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean, so check his Twitter feed.

Quarterbacks: Jake Locker, Ryan Fitzpatrick

There just is no room for Rusty Smith and there isn’t a need for a third quarterback unless things go incredibly wrong. The difference between a random third guy and Smith isn’t giant.

Running backs: Chris Johnson, Shonn Greene, Jackie Battle, Quinn Johnson (FB)

Battle has to contribute on special teams, but he was better than Jalen Parmele through the preseason. Wyatt says Parmele is already gone. Johnson’s been hurt and could lose out to Collin Mooney.

Wide receivers: Kenny Britt, Nate Washington, Kendall Wright, Damian Williams, Justin Hunter, Michael Preston, Marc Mariani (return specialist)

Preston is one of the best 53 players on the team. Even though he won’t be active on Sundays if everyone’s healthy, you keep extra quality depth at one spot if it’s better than weaker depth at another spot. Once he’s healthy, Mariani isn’t as explosive as a punt returner as Darius Reynaud, but will more regularly get 10 yards.

Tight ends: Delanie Walker, Craig Stevens, Taylor Thompson

No need for a fourth on the 53. Sign Jack Doyle to the practice squad

Offensive linemen: Tackles Michael Roos, David Stewart, Mike Otto, Byron Stingily. Interior: Andy Levitre, Chance Warmack, Rob Turner, Brian Schwenke, Fernando Velasco

Velasco is guaranteed $2.02 million under his tender contract out of restricted free agency. I’m not sure he should stick over Scott Solomon at linebacker or Stefan Charles at defensive tackle. But the big push for revamping the line and the desire for depth after last year’s slew of injuries makes me feel like they will stay loaded.

Defensive ends: Derrick Morgan, Ropati Pitoitua, Kamerion Wimbley, Lavar Edwards, Keyunta Dawson.

Dawson is a good guy to have. I can see him staying and the Titans going five ends as opposed to six tackles. But linebacker Akeem Ayers is a nickel end so he factors in here as well.

Defensive tackles: Jurrell Casey, Sammie Hill, Mike Martin, Antonio Johnson, Karl Klug (swing)

I’ve got Stefan Charles over DaJohn Harris but neither making it. If one of them sticks, it’s the last defensive line spot probably over Dawson. I see Charles on the practice squad.

Linebackers: Akeem Ayers, Moise Fokou, Zach Brown, Zaviar Gooden, Colin McCarthy, Patrick Bailey

Scott Solomon is one of my last two cuts. I want to keep seven 'backers. The seventh guy would be a trade-off for Velasco, I think. Solomon is versatile, seems to be catching on to the position change and can still play end if needed. He’s not practice squad eligible. I just can’t fit him here. I might keep him over Bailey but I don’t think they rank him that way.

Safeties: Michael Griffin, Bernard Pollard, George Wilson, Daimion Stafford

The fourth spot isn’t strong and Stafford could probably go to the practice squad. But if they choose a veteran -- Al Afalava or Corey Lynch -- as the fourth I could see them trying to upgrade it with an outsider.

Cornerbacks: Jason McCourty, Alterraun Verner, Tommie Campbell, Coty Sensabaugh, Blidi Wreh-Wilson

I’d expect Khalid Wooten on the practice squad.

Kicker: Rob Bironas

Punter: Brett Kern

Long-snapper: Beau Brinkley

Cap and rookie signing report

June, 10, 2013
6/10/13
10:53
AM ET
An update on cap space and rookie signings around the AFC South:

Jacksonville Jaguars -- $26.95 million under the cap.

Draft picks signed: CB Jeremy Harris (seventh round), Demetrius McCray (seventh round).

Draft picks unsigned: Six.

Tennessee Titans -- $9.69 million under the cap.

Draft picks signed: OLB Zaviar Gooden (third round), C Brian Schwenke (fourth round), DE Lavar Edwards (fifth round), CB Khalid Wooten (sixth round), S Daimion Stafford (seventh round).

Draft picks unsigned: Three.

Indianapolis Colts -- $8.5 million under the cap.

Draft picks signed: G Hugh Thornton (third round), C Khaled Holmes (fourth round), DT Montori Hughes (fifth round), S John Boyett (sixth round), RB Kerwynn Williams (seventh round), TE Justice Cunningham (seventh round).

Draft picks unsigned: One.

Houston Texans -- $2.8 million under the cap.

Draft picks signed: OLB Sam Montgomery (third round), OLB Trevardo Williams (fourth round), OT David Quessenberry (sixth round), WR Alan Bonner (sixth round), DT Chris Jones (sixth round), TE Ryan Griffin (sixth round).

Draft picks unsigned: Three.

RTC: Ranking city sports duos

May, 28, 2013
5/28/13
10:47
AM ET
Reading the coverage…

Houston Texans


A case that the Astrodome is worth keeping, from Jere Longman of the New York Times.

Returning receivers know the heat is on for them to justify their place with the Texans, says Tania Ganguli of the Houston Chronicle.

The Texans have depth for the long-term at cornerback, says Patrick Starr of State of the Texans.

Indianapolis Colts


A look a cities with franchise-caliber duos in sports from Matthew Glenesk and Nat Newell of the Indianapolis Star. Where do James Harden and J.J. Watt rank? How about Andrew Luck and Paul George?

An overview of the Colts in the red zone in 2012, from Kyle Rodriguez of Colts Authority.

Who will be the Colts' kick returner, asks Andrew Mishler of Stampede Blue.

Jacksonville Jaguars


Early indications are that cornerback Mike Harris and safety Chris Prosinski are in the Jaguars’ plans for 2013, says Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union.

To which I say: Perhaps Prosniski will be far better as a third safety. He's not a starting caliber guy.

Changing the date of the NFL draft is all about greed, says Gene Frenette of the Times-Union.

Part of the rationale in moving Tyson Alualu to end is taking some of the strain off his bad knee, says Dan Pompeii of the National Football Post.

Tennessee Titans


On Memorial Day, Titans fullback Collin Mooney remembered the sacrifices made by friends, says Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

A closer look at sixth-round cornerback Khalid Wooten, from Wyatt.

Considering the Titans' defensive backs from the draft with Tom Gower of Total Titans.

Titans rookie minicamp review

May, 13, 2013
5/13/13
1:03
PM ET
Three of the four teams in the AFC South are coming off weekend minicamps for their rookies. It's a time of year when virtually everything that comes out is positive. The teams had different levels of media availability. But as best we can, we’ll review the primary players and themes out of those camps today. Our final look is at the Tennessee Titans.

The No. 2 pick

Justin Hunter made some nice catches at the one practice the media got to watch, per Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean. “After an early drop, he leaned and caught a pass inches from the ground. Later he snagged a throw behind him in stride with ease. He had several such twisting catches.”

‘A take-charge guy’

In Brian Schwenke, the Titans hope they’ve found the guy that can fill the void at center they’ve had since they parted ways with Kevin Mawae in 2009. "He’s a take-charge guy,” coach Mike Munchak said of Schwenke, per John Glennon of The Tennessean.

More visible Munchak

Munchak intends to get more involved coaching the offensive linemen along with line coach Bruce Matthews, says Glennon. I saw some video (yes, it's just a snippet) of Munchak working with the rookie linemen, and it looked as if the group had two coaches. Anything that helps the Titans get the most of their investments on the line is a good thing. But when a head coach gets involved with his old position group, it prompts questions about the work that position coach has been doing.

New to the South

Per Wyatt, third-rounder Blidi Wreh-Wilson showed good footwork and hands. He was "smooth in his backpedal and in the right position during drills.”

Wreh-Wilson was born in Massachusetts, attended high school in Pennsylvania and played at UConn.

“(Seeing a different part of the country is) something that I wanted to do,” Wreh-Wilson told Craig Peters of the team’s website. “I’ve never been part of the South ever, so it’s going to be a nice experience for me. Where I’m from (in Pennsylvania) is always Steelers, Browns and Bills, so you hear about that. Being part of the Titans, we’ve got a little bit of support in Pennsylvania now.

Tryout guys

Six players who were at rookie camp for tryouts included Arizona State safety Kevin Ayers, the younger brother of Titans linebacker Akeem Ayers, said Wyatt.

Video of interviews

Chance Warmack, Justin Hunter, Lavar Edwards, Khalid Wooten, Kevin Ayers.
In the late stages of the draft, teams often select players with one hard-to-find quality and hope they can help the rest emerge.

That looks like what the Titans have with sixth-round selection Khalid Wooten, a cornerback out of Nevada who was the 202nd selection overall.

The quality? Speed.

Wooten’s been clocked at 4.43, which is quite fast for a 5-foot-11, 210-pounder.

While he’s got exceptional height-weight-speed, Scouts Inc. rates him as average in cover skills, and below average in instincts/recognition and run support.

He gets a score of above average in ball skills, but the write up doesn’t match:
"Shows adequate overall ball skills. Flashes anticipation and playmaking instincts. However, angles are a bit inconsistent tracking downfield throws. Uses long arms well to extend and get his hands on the ball when in position. Possesses enough length, strength and leaping ability to hold up in one-on-one jump ball situations. Hands are adequate but will have a few drops on plays he should make. Flashes ability to create with the ball in his hand."

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