Tennessee Titans: Collin Mooney

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The expansion of NFL practice squads from eight to 10 players also comes with a special exemption for two of the 10.

The criteria for practice-squad eligibility have been altered in two respects.

From the NFL announcement:
First, a player must have a minimum of six games -- up from the current three games -- on a Practice Squad in order for that season to count as one of the player’s three permissible seasons of Practice Squad service.

Second, each club will be permitted to sign a maximum of two Practice Squad players who have earned no more than two accrued seasons of free agency credit. Absent this exception, a player who has earned one or more accrued seasons would not be eligible for a Practice Squad unless the player spent fewer than nine games on a club’s 46-player active list in each of his accrued seasons.

Which Titans are now eligible for those two special slots?

Receiver Michael Preston, fullback Collin Mooney, defensive end Lavar Edwards and cornerback Micah Pellerin appear to be in line for such eligibility, though we have not yet gotten final confirmation from the league.

Preston is the one most in question.

"That's great," Preston said of the potential eligibility. "But I am hoping it doesn't get to that point. Hopefully I can do some things in these games coming up and keep doing some things in practice so I don't have to consider that option.

Final roster cuts are August 30. Teams can sign unclaimed players to their practice squads starting a day later.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Every team in every training camp talks optimistically. Every team with a new coaching staff talks about how things are different for the better.

The Tennessee Titans are lowly regarded by plenty of fans and media nationally. But they have a lot going on that they feel those people have not paid attention to.

With Ken Whisenhunt and his staff at the helm, new schemes on both sides of the ball, a schedule that doesn’t include some of the powers they faced a year ago and a division with two other rebuilding franchises, they might have a chance to surprise.

."You say each and every year, 'Feels different, feels different, feels different,'" safety Michael Griffin said. "Just, you can see every day, people out there talking, we always have guys picking people up. Each and every day there is competition. There are little side bets here and there -- who’s going to win this period and things of that nature. The whole time we’re all trying to get each other better.

"Again, it just feels so much different in this locker room, and everybody has the same goals in mind, and that’s a positive around here."

THREE REASONS FOR OPTIMISM

[+] EnlargeKen Whisenhunt
Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY SportsNew coach Ken Whisenhunt brings a solid résumé and a strong coaching staff to the Titans.
1. Whisenhunt isn’t Vince Lombardi or Don Shula, but the Titans' new coach is a significant upgrade from Mike Munchak, who was unsteady in his first three years as an NFL head coach. Whisenhunt had success in the role during his six seasons in Arizona, and he is a well-regarded offensive mind who will do more with what the Titans have than his predecessors.

Whisenhunt had the connections and the interviewing skills to hire a staff that appears to be filled with strong teachers, including a few quality holdovers. Defensive coordinator Ray Horton is turning the Titans into a less predictable 3-4 and comfortably works his way into different sections of practice when position work is unfolding. I've watched these coaches teach and I've seen them connect with players.

Whisenhunt may field a complex offense that's hard to defend, but he's good at keeping things simple. I don't see any changes in how the Titans function that aren't for the better at this point.

2. The Titans don’t have players the fans are going to pick to captain their fantasy squads, but Tennessee should have a good array of quality weapons on offense. Kendall Wright topped 1,000 yards in his second season, and now the team’s best receiver will be sent on a wider variety of routes, not just inside slot stuff. He's been excellent so far in camp. Justin Hunter is doing better getting his legs under him and is catching the ball more comfortably. He got behind Atlanta's defense a few times in the recent joint practice and should be a constant deep threat. Nate Washington is showing he remains a versatile, productive guy.

Beyond the receivers, tight end Delanie Walker and running backs Dexter McCluster and Bishop Sankey will be good pass-catching options. When the Falcons gave the Titans a lot of room underneath, Jake Locker hit McCluster with a pass over the middle, and he had a ton of space to take. The Titans have invested a great deal in their offensive line over the past two seasons. They have one more tackle than they need after signing Michael Oher and drafting Taylor Lewan. There should be better protection for the quarterback and better holes for the running backs.

3. The 4-3 defense in recent years lacked a star pass-rusher on the edge who an offense had to fear every snap. The Titans still don’t seem to have that guy. They have to find him, but even if he doesn’t emerge from this group, the overall production out of the pass rush should be better. Who is rushing and who is dropping into coverage? In the 4-3, opponents pretty much knew. In this 3-4, it won’t be nearly as clear on a regular basis. Jurrell Casey, who notched 10.5 sacks as a tackle last season, will work as an end now. He's worked on speed rushes off the edge as well as his bread-and-butter quick power stuff in camp.

Sure, some good quarterbacks can diagnose who is rushing and who isn’t, no matter the front. But outside of Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck (twice), the Titans don’t face any A-list quarterbacks coming off big 2013 seasons this time around. They don’t see Seattle and San Francisco this season either.

THREE REASONS FOR PESSIMISM

1. Locker is a really likable guy who works hard, says the right things and desperately wants to prove he is the long-term answer for the Titans at quarterback. But in two seasons as the starter, he's missed 14 games while dealing with shoulder, hip, knee and foot injuries. He's practiced pretty well, but there are plays splashed in that can be killers on a Sunday afternoon.

Getting 16 games out of him is hardly a certainty for the Titans. Even if they do and he fits well with what Whisenhunt is asking him to do, he has not been accurate or poised enough when he has played. He sometimes tries to do too much and isn’t poised under pressure. Though he moves well and is very fast, putting him on the move puts him at more risk of another injury. Behind him are more question marks. Charlie Whitehurst has had no real success in just 13 games in eight seasons and often fails to step into his throws. Rookie Zach Mettenberger has a great arm but slipped to the sixth round for several reasons and is rotating with Tyler Wilson as the third-team QB. (Update: Wilson was released Wednesday.)

2. The offensive weaponry looks good, but for those five pass-catchers to give the Titans the nice smorgasbord of options, they need to stay healthy. Also, guys like Hunter (second year), Sankey (a rookie) and McCluster (first year with the Titans and Whisenhunt) need to show that their potential and practice play translate into NFL Sundays in a Tennessee uniform. Wright was the best player on offense last season and should grow more. Can the others become known quantities?

Who is the star of the defense? DT-turned-DE Casey is a strong, quick rusher who was healthy and productive in 2013. He is going to land a big-money contract -- either soon from Tennessee or on the market next spring. There are some nice pieces around him, but the Titans need veterans to have their best seasons and youngsters to emerge, all simultaneously. In Georgia, no defender stood out and regularly gave the Falcons more than they could handle.

3. Forty-seven percent of the current 90-man roster has been in the league for two years or less. Youth is generally good, but it needs to be quality youth and it needs to be surrounded by quality veterans. The Titans lack experience in a lot of spots. There aren't kids in camp who weren't high picks but have forced their way up the depth chart to this point.

Maybe it’s a great mix of players and a good share of the inexperienced people can blossom together. But with new coaches and new schemes, it could be asking a lot for all that to happen in the first season.

OBSERVATION DECK
    [+] EnlargeJake Locker
    Don McPeak/USA TODAY SportsJake Locker needs a healthy season if he hopes to become the long-term answer at QB for the Titans.

  • Locker said he feels more comfortable speaking up and being vocal, and he has shown himself to be more confident in how he carries himself. After one throw that looked to be too long for an undrafted rookie, Locker pointed to tell Julian Horton where he should have gone. He still has bad moments in practice, but the preseason has not started, and he is progressing.
  • The Titans have moved running back Jackie Battle to fullback, where he can offer some needed versatility. He appears to have a sizable lead on incumbent Collin Mooney, who has had, at most, a handful of first-team snaps.
  • Among long-shot late additions, veteran receiver Derek Hagan has been consistently good and Brian Robiskie is also gaining notice. He's competing for the fourth and fifth wide receiver spots with Marc Mariani and Michael Preston. Maybe they'll keep six.
  • Sankey is learning quickly how to be a pro, and he has shown a bit of everything the Titans said they expected when they made him the first running back selected in the draft. His first day in pads he looked like an experienced NFL-caliber pass protector. He has good vision and makes good decisions on when to go and when to cut. He also catches the ball well, can run inside and outside.
  • Weakside outside linebacker Shaun Phillips has not worked at all with the first team when Kamerion Wimbley has been practicing.
  • Tommie Campbell was politely mentioned with Coty Sensabaugh and Blidi Wreh-Wilson as a contender for the starting right cornerback spot that opened when Alterraun Verner signed with Tampa Bay. But it’s a two-man competition, and Campbell has struggled horribly.

Titans Camp Report: Day 2

July, 27, 2014
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Tennessee Titans training camp:
  • In one-on-ones with receivers against defensive backs, undrafted rookie wideout Julian Horton matched up against undrafted rookie corner Ri'Shard Anderson. Jake Locker's pass sailed further downfield than where Horton had broken to the sideline. As Anderson looked back after the ball went incomplete, Locker pointed to where he should have been. That’s not vocal, but it did illustrate the sort of ownership and willingness to be heard that Locker said he’s been more reluctant to show in the past.
  • There was a stiff wind that had a bearing on a lot of passes. Charlie Whitehurst looked most affected by it to me, particularly on some deep balls in one-on-ones where he chose to put a lot of air under passes. Even Zach Mettenberger, the strongest-armed quarterback on the team, threw some wobblers. Ken Whisenhunt said he was happy with the wind, because the Titans were sure to get something like it on a game day at some point. Long-time assistant equipment man Matt Thompson has always shown a big arm. He made one of the day’s best throws when Leon Washington needed a ball in the end zone to bring out as the team worked on return positioning. It was over 40 yards in the air, a rope with a nice arc and plenty of zip.
  • Whisenhunt said more cover-2 was as big a reason for the reduction in deep completions from Day 1 to Day 2 as the wind. Defensive coordinator Ray Horton said no deep balls have been a theme since he joined the team and he was glad the offense hit them on the first day so he could say “this is what we’re talking about” to the defense.
  • There were some big mismatches where the matchups got out of sync. I guess the lesser player in Justin Hunter vs. Anderson and Rico Richardson vs. Coty Sensabaugh has a lot to learn from such a snap. But I liked when Tommie Campbell stepped on the field, replacing Khalid Wooten, for a snap against Justin Hunter. Campbell struggled against Marc Mariani on Saturday and had a tough time again, particularly in some snaps against Hunter.
  • Blidi Wreh-Wilson got the second day work as the second starting cornerback, after Sensabaugh had it on Saturday. Wreh-Wilson stuck with Hunter on a deep route early in seven-on-seven and Locker looked to want to go there, but ended up checking down.
  • Taylor Lewan got the bulk of the work as the starting left guard with Andy Levitre (appendix) out and Byron Stingily heading inside to deal with sickness.
  • Michael Preston worked higher in the receiver pecking order on Day 2, and Mariani was lower.
  • Whisenhunt said at the start that competitive positions wouldn’t see the same guy at the front of the line for multiple days. That bodes well for the status of Jackie Battle, who was the front-liner at fullback ahead of Collin Mooney again on Sunday.
  • Locker was running comfortably and without any hesitation. In one team period, he pulled it down after seeing nothing to his liking and ran up the middle, threw a completion along the right sideline to Nate Washington after rolling right and also rolled left and took off that direction. There was nothing to suggest his surgically repaired foot was any sort of issue.
  • Nate Washington returned to the receiver group jawing hard at cornerback Micah Pellerin, telling him not to do that and “if you’re beat, you’re beat.” Pellerin dropped a pick of Whitehurst on a throw Whitehurst didn’t seem to step into as strongly as he could have.
  • Second team defense: LE Al Woods, NT Antonio Johnson, RE Mike Martin, LOLB Shaun Phillips, ILB Zaviar Gooden, ILB Colin McCarthy, ROLB Akeem Ayers, LCB Tommie Campbell, S George Wilson, S Daimion Stafford, RCB Sensabaugh.
  • Washington, Dexter McCluster, Bishop Sankey and Mariani didn’t field balls, but each brought balls out of the end zone in a kickoff return period.
  • Kendall Wright made a nice sliding catch in traffic in front of Sensabaugh.
  • Stafford picked off a Tyler Wilson pass for tight end Jason Schepler.
  • Bernard Pollard was busting on Zach Mettenberger from the sideline as Mettenberger led the offense, shouting "Roll Tide." That's what someone said to Metenberger recently before sucker punching the former LSU player at a Nashville bar.
Titans fullback Collin Mooney will spend the summer scuffling to keep a job.

We don’t know how exactly Ken Whisenhunt will deploy a fullback and the Titans have running back Jackie Battle working as a fullback.

It may be an ideal scenario for Battle to be the guy. The Titans would have a fourth running back available and Battle is a good special-teams player. Tight ends can chip in with some fullback work, too. That sort of positional versatility for the fullback spot can be valuable considering no team uses very much of a two-back set.

But it won't be that easy to displace Mooney, who was rated very well by Pro Football Focus for his play in 2013. In just 105 snaps, he rated a plus-9.9. Michael Mountford of PFF picked Mooney as the Titans' secret superstar from 2013.

Mooney never played more than 15 snaps in a game, so no matter how well he played they didn’t value a fullback's contribution very much very often.

Mountford sees the potential for more room for Mooney under Whisenhunt, particularly because of the way Whisenhunt used fullbacks in Arizona.

It’s a position that will bear watching.

Titans restock at tight end, fullback

December, 3, 2013
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The banged-up Tennessee Titans jiggled their roster Tuesday to restock for Sunday’s game at Denver and the remainder of the season, adding veteran tight end Visanthe Shiancoe.

Shiancoe will join Taylor Thompson as the two healthy players at the position. Craig Stevens missed the Titans' game at Indianapolis because of a concussion. Delanie Walker was knocked out of the game against the Colts in the first half with a concussion of his own.

The Titans also have a new fullback who’s really not new. Collin Mooney is on injured reserve with a knee injury suffered at Lucas Oil Stadium, and the Titans replaced him with Quinn Johnson, who was the team’s fullback in 2012. Johnson went on injured reserve just before this season, and the Titans reached an injury settlement with him and went forward with Mooney.

Putting Mooney on IR created one open roster spot, and the Titans created two more by waiving linebacker Zac Diles and safety Shann Schillinger. Shiancoe and Johnson fill two spots, and Michael Griffin returns from a one-week suspension that came with a roster exemption.

RTC: Watch Schwenke vs. Posluszny

November, 10, 2013
11/10/13
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Reading the coverage of the Tennessee Titans ...

Center Brian Schwenke versus middle linebacker Paul Posluszny will be one of this game’s big matchups, says The Tennessean in its game preview.

Tight end Craig Stevens doesn’t have a catch, but he’s making an impact in the run game, says John Glennon of The Tennessean.

Representing the armed services, Titans fullback Collin Mooney will be the team’s 12th man at LP Field Sunday before the Jaguars game.

Alterraun Verner is on John Clayton’s mid-season All-Pro team.

How Chris Johnson got his big runs against the Rams, from Tom Gower of Total Titans. Hint: The holes were gaping.

Breaking down the pass-catches halfway through the season, with Gower.

RTC: Run game failed in key situations

September, 19, 2013
9/19/13
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Reading the coverage of the Tennessee Titans ...

"[Kenny Britt] defended his latest social-media comment and his effort as a player. He bristled at the suggestion he’s selfish. He said he’d love to play for the Titans next year.” Jim Wyatt’s story from The Tennessean.

Bernard Pollard questions his big fine, Kendall Wright talks concussion, Rob Turner has a hold on the center job and an injury update, from The Tennessean’s notebook.

Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains will be 33 soon, and ranks as the youngest coordinator in the NFL, says David Boclair of the Nashville Post.

“... [T]he Titans came into 2013 wanting and needing to rely on their run game. Yet in three crucial situations on Sunday -- the fourth-and-1 from the 39, the safety, and the four-minute drill -- they couldn't run the ball when they wanted to and had to, even if the Texans knew a run would be coming.” A film review from Tom Gower of Total Titans.

To which I say: As Gower points out, even the best running team won't be able to run it well every time. But his overall point is a good one. The Titans still have a lot of room to get better as a rushing offense.

Pro Football Focus thought Moise Fokou had a bad game at Houston and thought Collin Mooney played well.
Reading the coverage of the Tennessee Titans…

Defensive end Ropati Pitoitua did a good job with the dirty work, and he’s the kind of guy the Titans haven’t had enough of, say Jim Wyatt and John Glennon of The Tennessean.

Three keys to the game from Wyatt (video) and three key matchups from Glennon (video).

Being rested on defense makes a big difference to Derrick Morgan, says Glennon.

Breaking down the success of Jurrell Casey and Zach Brown against the Steelers, with Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com.

Fullback Collin Mooney was a secret superstar in Week 1, according to Gordon McGuinness of Pro Football Focus.
Reading the coverage of the Tennessee Titans…

Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey and linebacker Zach Brown were playmakers in the opener and have the potential to be standout players for a defense that has lacked them, says John Glennon of The Tennessean.

Guard Chance Warmack made some mistakes and saw some new things in his regular-season debut, says Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

Bud Adams, Eddie George and Steve McNair are on the list of 126 modern-era nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

To which I say: It’s a very thorough initial list. I don’t regard any of the three as Hall of Famers.

For Titans fullback Collin Mooney, Sept. 11 was a big factor in deciding to go to West Point, says David Boclair of the Nashville Post.

With Jackie Battle the Titans have their best three-man running back depth since 2007, says Boclair.

Warmack is preparing for his first chance against reigning defensive player of the year J.J. Watt, says Teresa Walker of the AP.

To which I say: It will be very interesting to see how he does, but let’s remember on base downs it will be more about right tackle David Stewart.
A look at the snap report from the NFL for the Titans in their win over Pittsburgh.

Offense, 67 total snaps
LT Michael Roos, 67
LG Andy Levitre, 67
C Rob Turner, 67
RG Chance Warmack, 67
RT David Stewart, 67
QB Jake Locker, 67

TE Delanie Walker, 51
TE Craig Stevens, 49
RB Chris Johnson, 43
WR Kenny Britt, 43
WR Nate Washington, 38
WR Damian Williams, 27
TE Taylor Thompson, 25
RB Jackie Battle, 19
WR Kendall Wright, 19
FB Collin Mooney, 17
RB Shonn Greene, 4

Greene got hurt early or would likely have had most of Battle’s snaps. The team said Wright’s preseason knee injury wasn’t going to be an issue, but he should get more than that if he’s fine -- especially when Britt is ineffective.

Defense, 53 total snaps
CB Jason McCourty, 53
LB Moise Fokou, 53
LB Zach Brown, 53
FS Michael Griffin, 53

CB Alterraun Verner, 52
SS Bernard Pollard. 51
DE Derrick Morgan, 49
DT Jurrell Casey, 45
CB Coty Sensabaugh, 36
LB-DE Akeem Ayers, 29
DE Kamerion Wimbley, 27
DL Karl Klug, 23
DE Ropati Pitoitua, 19
DT Mike Martin, 17
DT Sammie Hill, 17
S George Wilson, 3
DT Antonio Johnson, 3

The Titans are supposed to be reducing Morgan’s snaps, but Ayers is coming off an ankle injury and they were clearly measuring his work. He wasn’t very effective. Pitoitua showed well. Hill was a big free-agent addition. He had an elbow injury in the preseason and I would expect more action from him.

Four Titans played 18 special-teams snaps: Patrick Bailey, Tommie Campbell, Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Daimion Stafford.

Backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was the only active player who didn't take the field.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Quinn Johnson is doubtful for Sunday's game in Pittsburgh because of a quad injury. If he can’t go, the Tennessee Titans need to sort out a fullback for Sunday.

GM Ruston Webster told us on Nashville radio that the team has to have one.

“It would be tough for us in our offense and the way that we are playing to go without a fullback,” he said. “Some teams do, some teams use tight ends, But offensively, the fullback is part of our running game especially. So Quinn is banged up and we’re in the process of making a decision there on what to do.”

The options:
  • Tennessee worked out free agents Michael Robinson (formerly of Seattle) and John Conner (formerly of Cincinnati) on Friday. But Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean said the team wasn't immediately intending to sign one of them. Playing a guy who has not practiced with the team would be tough. And vested veterans on the team in Week 1 are assured of their full base salary no matter if they are with the team all season.
  • Collin Mooney is on the practice squad and could be promoted. But to make room for him the Titans would have to cut someone. I see Keyunta Dawson, a defensive end who can play special teams, as a candidate here. They like him and could re-sign him next week presuming Johnson is back healthy. But if someone scooped him up it wouldn’t be tragic.

Coach Mike Munchak on Mooney: “Well, he’s someone we have confidence in if that’s what we need to do. That’s the one good thing about having someone here that knows what we’re doing. So, that’ll be one of our options, but we’ll just wait and see how this thing works out.”
Reading the coverage of the Tennessee Titans ...

Amid all the talk of Troy Polamalu as a wild card, Titans offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains is going to be an X factor on Sunday too, says David Climer.

To which I say: The issue there is that even in a down year the Steelers had the league’s top defense last year. And Loggains could be limited if Jake Locker gets over-amped and tries to do too much.

Justin Hunter might get caught up in a numbers game and not be able to dress, say John Glennon and Wyatt.

The Titans will look at free agent fullback Michael Robinson Friday, says Wyatt. Quinn Johnson missed practice Thursday with a quad injury. Collin Mooney is on the practice squad.

Chris Johnson thinks Locker’s mobility can be a big help to the Titans’ run game, says Teresa Walker of the Associated Press.

A look at Troy Polamalu in his last four chances against the Titans, from David Boclair of the Nashville Post.

Chance Warmack is ready for his first regular season game, says Craig Peters of the team’s website.
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.

RTC: Marc Mariani is understanding

September, 1, 2013
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Reading the coverage of the Tennessee Titans …



Marc Mariani took the Titans' decision to put him on IR pretty well, says Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean. “…[They] felt like this was best and I don’t think they are trying to pull any fast ones. I think they are doing what’s best for the team and for me. So it’s tough to argue.”

To which I say: I think the Titans actually preferred him to Darius Reynaud as their return man, but even a couple weeks of uncertainty made it too hard for them to keep him. I think they could have managed.

Cutting Fernando Velasco saved the Titans money and gave the starting job to Rob Turner, a nastier player, says Wyatt.

Quick breakdowns on four cut Titans: Rusty Smith, Jalen Parmele, Collin Mooney and Dontel Watkins, from Pro Football Focus.

The defensive tackle depth is excellent. But drops and missed tackles are two things the Titans need to improve on from last year, says Michael Renner of Pro Football Focus.

Tennessee Titans cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
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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.

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