Tennessee Titans: Rusty Smith

On drafting quarterbacks regularly

February, 24, 2014
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Jake Locker is in line to be the Titans' starting quarterback in 2014.

But he’s going to have competition and Tennessee hopes the group is better overall.

Right now it’s Locker, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tyler Wilson.

Expect a draft pick as well.

“I really think you probably should look at the quarterback position every year,” general manager Ruston Webster told Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean. “I’d like to take that philosophy moving forward.”

Ron Wolf, the former GM of the Green Bay Packers, believed in drafting a quarterback every year. Hit on them at any kind of decent rate, you develop the most important commodity in the league, give yourself options, make trades and upgrade draft picks.

The thing that makes it somewhat difficult is that to take an approach like that, a team without a clear-cut franchise signal-caller probably has to commit to carrying three quarterbacks.

In the Titans' case, it’d be the presumptive starter in Locker. It’d be the veteran backup in Fitzpatrick or someone like him who could play when needed but not require regular practice snaps. And it’d be the rookie or second-year kid like Wilson.

The loser of that last spot could be rated as a practice-squad talent, but there would be very little practice work for the third guy, let alone the fourth.

Here's some detail on drafting quarterbacks from Michael Bonzagni of ESPN Stats & Information:

In the last 10 drafts (2004-2013), there have been a total of 126 quarterbacks taken.

Most QBs taken in last 10 drafts:
  • Broncos: 7
  • Jets: 6
  • Eagles: 5
  • Packers: 5
  • Browns: 5
  • Ravens: 5
  • 49ers: 5
  • Redskins: 5

The Titans have drafted three in that span, tied for 24th most.

Two of the three quarterbacks the Titans have taken in that time frame have been first-round picks -- Vince Young, third overall in 2006, and Locker, eighth overall in 2011.

That's tied with four other teams (the Broncos, Browns, Bills, Redskins) for the most QBs taken with first-round picks.

Tennessee is the only team in the last 10 drafts to use two different top-10 picks on QBs.

There have been a total of 28 quarterbacks taken in the first round in the last 10 drafts, 16 with top-10 picks.

The Titans also took Rusty Smith with a sixth-round pick in 2010.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Pro Bowl cornerback Alterraun Verner is allowing room for sentiment on Sunday.

As he takes the field for the Tennessee Titans against the Houston Texans, it will creep into his head that it could be the last time.

Verner has a great feel for the game and a knack for being around the ball and breaking things up.

“Definitely that thought has occurred to me, but it’s not overriding where I am letting that emotionally distress me or get me away from the game,” Verner said. "It’s definitely crossed my mind that this could be [it]. Could be.”

[+] EnlargeTennessee Titans' Alterraun Verner
AP Photo/Patric SchneiderThe price tag looks to be high for defensive backs Alterraun Verner, No. 20, and Bernard Pollard, both free agents at season's end.
He’s timed things up well. After such a solid season, his price may be at an all-time high. I’m sure the Titans would like to keep him. But they’ve spent two recent offseasons trying to give his job away to Tommie Campbell and clearly see Verner's speed as a deficiency in an otherwise solid game.

Future: They should certainly try to keep him. But at this stage, there is no reason for him not to wait for free agency and check out the market. And I’ll bet a team that thinks it’s a corner away will offer him something bigger than the Titans will.

A look at other guys for whom Sunday could be The Last Time.

Running back Chris Johnson

We’ve written frequently about the cost-versus-production equation for Johnson, most recently here. St. Louis fifth-round pick Zac Stacy has a few more yards and a slightly bigger yards per carry average this season. Stacy made $581,500 in 2013. CJ made $10 million.

Future: It’s not working, as Johnson hasn’t been the playmaker he sold himself as when he got the big contract after three years. He won’t take less money – or sufficient responsibility, for that matter. They should move on.

Right tackle David Stewart

He broke his leg late in the 2012 season and has never returned to form, with all sorts of nagging injuries slowing him down this year. He’s questionable for this game with a shoulder injury. He’s been a tough, physical presence for the team for a long time. But he’s due $6.4 million in 2014.

Future: The Titans cannot pay him that much next year.

Strong safety Bernard Pollard

He’s delivered on what the Titans asked when they signed him for one year, providing attitude and toughness to go with solid play. They’ve used him smartly and if he’s not back they will have a hole that will be difficult to fill in both production and leadership.

Future: They should try to keep him, but it’s unclear what the market will offer. Surely there will be a multi-year deal to be had. Will the Titans offer one?

Defensive end Kamerion Wimbley

He’s not been a fit for the Titans, who grabbed him in 2011 after their failed pursuit of Peyton Manning. When they focused solely on him meant Mario Williams went to Buffalo. Even if there's a new staff and it wants to run a 3-4 that’s more suited to Wimbley, he’s not worth $6 million in 2014.

Future: It’s long been presumed he will be cut.

Wide receiver Damian Williams

He got benched for the Arizona game because of a violation of team rules, but such a slip was totally uncharacteristic. He’s a bright guy who can play every receiver spot. He’s ideal as a fourth with potential to be a solid third.

Future: They should re-sign him.

Wide receiver Kenny Britt

The last year of his initial contract has been a disaster during which he lost confidence and was unable to catch the ball consistently. He’ll likely be inactive again Sunday. In a new setting, perhaps he can recover. But he’ll get a minimum contract or something close to it, when a big season would have set him up as a free-agent prize.

Future: It’s elsewhere.

Quarterback Rusty Smith

He’s been the team’s developmental quarterback for four years, and he could never work his way to a place where the team wanted him to be the No. 2. He ended up in that spot only because of injury.

Future: If he’s not a No. 2 by now, it’s time to move on. Tyler Wilson was a late signing, and should take over the Smith spot as the developmental quarterback.

Defensive end Ropati Pitoitua

Started very strong but hasn’t been as good down the stretch. He gives the Titans good size in their run-down front and would benefit from better linebacker play.

Future: Worth keeping at the right price and contract length.

Defensive tackle Antonio Johnson

He’s a workmanlike run-down defender who’s a good piece as a role player.

Future: Shouldn’t be hard to keep.

Also with expiring contracts: Returner Leon Washington, returner Marc Mariani, running back Jackie Battle, wide receiver Kevin Walter, offensive tackle Mike Otto, interior offensive linemen Rob Turner and Chris Spencer.

On Skelton, Wiggles and Walter

November, 19, 2013
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Thoughts on three things that came out of Tennessee Titans' headquarters on Tuesday:

1) John Skelton is the No. 3 quarterback -- Mike Munchak said the Titans will only have two quarterbacks active on Sunday in Oakland and they will be Ryan Fitzpatrick and Rusty Smith. Skelton said it's his job to get up to speed as soon as he can. Maybe he's just insurance if anything happens to one of the guys ahead of him. Maybe it's revisited once he's up to speed. Munchak made it sound like it's the former, not the latter. "He’s very comfortable with what we’re doing, we’re very comfortable with him, so he’d be the guy second," he said of Smith.

2) Wiggles remains the returner -- The Titans have shown a willingness to make changes this year. They pulled center Rob Turner out of the lineup, minimized Kenny Britt and cut Darius Reynaud. But one bad mistake didn't warrant a demotion or loss of roster spot for Devon Wylie. The return man ran into teammates Craig Stevens and fumbled a kickoff return that crushed the Titans as they blew a big lead to the Colts. Wylie told Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean that the fumble was "kind of a fluky thing." It seems like a bad word choice to me. He was careless. And if he makes another mistake like that after Munchak shows this faith in him, it will be killer.

3) Receiver Kevin Walter won't play this season -- Today was the last day the team could activate him from PUP to open a three-week practice window. He's not ready and they saw no hope of him being in position to join the roster in three weeks. The Titans signed him for $1 million for 2013 as they looked to shore up their receiver depth but he needed offseason back surgery. Even with Britt's slide, they haven't been in position to really need or miss Walter.

Skelton addition means doubt in Smith

November, 18, 2013
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- When Jake Locker suffered his first injury of the season and the Tennessee Titans learned he’d be out two of three games, they were content to stick with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Rusty Smith as their quarterbacks.

Now with Locker on IR and six games left, the team has changed course.

Journeyman John Skelton has been added to the roster. Cornerback Tommie Campbell went on IR to make roster room.

My guess would be Skelton enters as the No. 3, taking a crash course in the offense to get ready in case anything happens to Fitzpatrick or Smith.

But if Skelton catches on quickly it wouldn’t be especially hard him to surpass Smith, who’s not gotten any particularly strong votes of confidence from the team.

Smith was cut before the season, and when no one grabbed him they put him on their practice squad. He then got promoted to the roster after Locker suffered a sprained right knee and right hip on Sept. 29 against the Jets.

Skelton started out with the Cardinals and started 17 games in three seasons with Arizona. More recently he’s been in Cincinnati and San Francisco.

Steering the car back onto the road

October, 15, 2013
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A look at some of what I am hearing on Twitter and on the radio, paired with my attempts to steer the car back onto the road:

It can't be any worse with Rusty Smith at quarterback.

Smith
Smith
Yes, it can. Somehow there is a perception out there that Smith would be a safer play than Ryan Fitzpatrick, that he would take better care of the ball. Au contraire. In training camp practices where Jake Locker and Fitzpatrick would make a lot of safe throws, Smith consistently threw it downfield the most. He's a chance-taker. He'd come with far more risk.

Why is Smith on the team if he can't play?

He can play, it's just that the scenario where he would play is one where Fitzpatrick gets hurt. Plenty of teams don't even have a legitimate starter, so quality backups are hard to come by. No. 3s? They are developmental guys hoping to graduate into No. 2s. The alternatives for Smith's position were washed up guys like David Carr and John Skelton who've had plenty of chances to show they can't play. The first guy is better than the second guy who's better than the third guy. Thus the depth chart.

The Titans are insisting on running Chris Johnson up the middle when he's far better in space.

Absolutely true. But saying "get him in space" is a lot easier than getting him in space. They need to be more creative and assertive in trying. And don't be so sure the calls are telling Johnson to go inside. My radio colleague Jonathan Hutton says he's told CJ is taking stretch plays and other stuff designed to create opportunity outside, either being impatient or not finding time, and taking them inside.

The Titans should have signed a better backup quarterback in the offseason.

Who would that have been?

The Titans should have kept Matt Hasselbeck.

Maybe. But I understood the rationale. He was overpaid and they felt like he was getting a bit gun shy: willing to throw for 3 yards on third-and-6 in order to avoid a hit. It wasn't unreasonable for them to seek to change direction.

On contact vs. contract

October, 8, 2013
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- I didn't get around to it when the story came out.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Sunday that the Titans recently reached out to JaMarcus Russell, the former Oakland Raiders quarterback.

After Jake Locker was hurt on Sept. 29, the Titans looked into options for their No. 2 quarterback. They also contacted David Carr and John Skelton, who came to Nashville for workouts.

Apparently they were curious about Russell, too. Schefter reported Russell was interested but is rehabilitating a knee injury and wasn't able to work out.

The Titans may have looked to a veteran to put behind backup Ryan Fitzpatrick if Locker was out longer. But the Titans ultimately said they expected Locker to miss "a few" weeks and signed Rusty Smith from their practice squad.

Far too many people jumped to the conclusion that the Titans wanted Russell and would have signed him if he was healthy and able to return.

That's a giant leap.

There is a one-letter difference between contact and contract.

It's a very significant R.
Reading the coverage of the Tennessee Titans ...

Neil O’Donnell said the first, biggest adjustment for a backup making a start is how fast the pocket collapses. Ryan Fitzpatrick will have to play well for the Titans to stay hot, says Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

The Titans waived defensive end Keyunta Dawson to make room for quarterback Rusty Smith, says Wyatt.

Breast cancer survivor Kim Johnson, who is Craig Stevens' cousin, will be the Titans’12th Man against the Chiefs.

Three reasons to believe in the Titans Sunday, and three reasons not to, from David Boclair of Nashville Post.

Donald Stephenson will replace Eric Fisher (concussion) at right tackle for Kansas City and the Titans should be able to exploit Stephenson as they rush that passer, says Music City Miracles.

Titans don't endorse Rusty Smith, yet

September, 30, 2013
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Ryan Fitzpatrick is starting at quarterback for the Tennessee Titans on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, and very likely for a while beyond that.

While Jake Locker is out with hip and knee injuries, the Titans need a new backup.

Smith
Smith
Dowell Loggains said during the preseason that he'd stand on the table for Rusty Smith, though Smith was cut and then signed to the practice squad.

The likely move to back up Fitzpatrick would be to promote Smith to the 53-man roster. But Mike Munchak hardly offered a ringing endorsement of the 2010 sixth-round draft pick out of Florida Atlantic.

"We haven't decided what we're doing yet at that position," Munchak said. "...He knows our offense well, he knows what we are doing well. So you have to take a lot of those factors into what's the best thing if something does happen now to Ryan? What's the best thing for this team to win. We'll consider our options before we decide what to do."

But why have Smith on the practice squad if he's not technically the third quarterback?

"I didn't say he's not going to be the two, we're always going to take a look at the situation before we make a decision," Munchak said. "Standing right here, I'm not going to make the decision right now. We haven't made any decisions right now. We're just going to make sure it's the best decision when the time comes."

"If he's not the guy, I'll explain to you why at that time."

Munchak said the Titans would have available quarterbacks in for a look on Tuesday.

There is hardly a quality list of available quarterbacks. It includes veterans like Charlie Batch, Byron Leftwich, Tyler Thigpen, David Carr and Trent Edwards.

There are also young quarterbacks on other practice squads the Titans could sign, though they can't try those guys out and making that move would be the biggest possible indictment of Smith.

Those quarterbacks include Indy's Chandler Harnish, Buffalo's Thad Lewis, Oakland's Tyler Wilson and Cincinnati's Greg McElroy.

If Locker doesn't go on IR-recall, which Munchak made sound unlikely, the Titans will have to cut someone to make room for Smith or an outsider.

Offensive tackle Byron Stingily and rookie defensive end Lavar Edwards have both been inactive for every game. Rookie cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson re-aggravated a hamstring injury in the win over the Jets and they could put him on IR to create room.
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.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans are sifting through position numbers and deciding if a seventh linebacker is better than a sixth or seventh receiver, and if he’s better than a third quarterback.

It’s a complicated puzzle.

I wondered how much the idea of a guy getting claimed and being a successful player elsewhere, perhaps for a team yours faces, factors into the decision-making.

Mike Munchak offered this on that idea:

“It’s probably one of those last things. The first is what’s best for our team and all that. But yeah, I think it measures in, where a person could end up. If you’re going to trade someone or let someone go, there’s always the competitive thought, do we really want to see this guy on that team?”

“There are a lot of things that factor in. That’s not a big factor, but it definitely weighs into the thinking. When you are having some of these discussions, it’s definitely something that comes up.”

The Titans were in relatively good shape at running back in 2010 and thought they'd be able to get LeGarrette Blount onto their practice squad. They had Chris Johnson and Javon Ringer as well as fullback Ahmard Hall on the roster.

The Titans ultimately got crushed for letting Blount go and watching Tampa Bay claim him and get good production.

So as we ponder the 12 remaining cuts to come, I ask:

Would you be wary of facing Rusty Smith, or would you welcome the chance?

My 53-man Tennessee Titans roster

August, 30, 2013
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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
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- We will see a lot of third-string quarterback Rusty Smith Thursday night when the Tennessee Titans wrap up their preseason with a game at Minnesota.

[+] EnlargeRusty Smith
Jim Brown/USA TODAY SportsRusty Smith, a three-year veteran in the NFL, could be a third quarterback option for the Titans.
But is that the last we will see of him?

John Glennon of The Tennessean examines the state of the Titans' No. 3 quarterback, and the case for him and against him sticking on the roster.

They’d like to keep him as the third quarterback. Should Jake Locker or Ryan Fitzpatrick get hurt, there would be built-in insurance. If the No. 1 and No. 2 are healthy, Smith would be a weekly deactivation, one of eight players of the 53 who don’t dress for a game.

Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains called a third quarterback a luxury, but said it’s a luxury he hopes the Titans will have.

But Smith is in his fourth season. He was a sixth-round draft pick out of Florida Atlantic in 2010. He’s got practice-squad eligibility, and the ideal scenario would be to get him there, but if the Titans cut him, they run the risk of him playing for another team's roster.

Here’s an example of what the Titans should do, and it's based on Loggains' answer to a question about the likelihood of Smith getting claimed on waivers if he’s cut.

“I think he’s done enough in his career and shown the ability to throw the ball good enough that he would have the opportunity to get picked up by someone else, if some other team wants to keep three quarterbacks.”

By his fourth year, he needs to at least be able to challenge for the No. 2 job. The Titans swapped out one veteran, Matt Hasselbeck, for another, Fitzpatrick, this offseason. They didn’t think for a second about turning to Smith as their alternative to Locker. Loggains doesn't think another team would consider Smith as a No. 2.

Fitzpatrick has a two-year deal, so Smith wouldn’t necessarily graduate to backup next year either.

They need him on the practice squad, but there isn’t room for him on the 53.

If I’m the Titans, that’s the move I make. And if someone else snatches him up, well, my scouting department better have a list of a couple guys coming free who’d seize a practice squad opportunity and provide roughly the same things Smith does, even without the experience with the franchise.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill has played in four preseason games.

Locker
Per Mike Sando of the NFC West blog, Tannehill leads all presumptive NFL starting quarterback with 103 snaps, 10 of them coming in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio.

No. 2 on the list is Jake Locker of the Tennessee Titans, who’s steadily improved in the preseason during his 97 snaps.

Locker played 26 snaps in a loss to Washington, 35 in a loss at Cincinnati and 36 in Saturday’s win over Atlanta.

The Titans and Locker are feeling good about where he stands now.

I’m part of The Midday 180 on Nashville radio, and we chatted with Locker on Monday.

The rest of the top of the list isn’t loaded with youngsters, as we’d probably expect.

Joe Flacco, who just one a Super Bowl, is third. Peyton Manning, settling into Year 2 in Denver is fourth.

Brandon Weeden of the Browns is next, and he does need the time, thought he’s not young for a second-year guy. Tom Brady is sixth.

Mike Munchak has said Titans third-stringer Rusty Smith will get the most playing time Thursday night in Minnesota. Locker’s hardly the only starter who won’t see a lot of time. Some won’t play at all.

Locker will finish near the top of this list. The question is whether or not his first full preseason as the Titans starting quarterback will pay dividends on opening day Sept. 8 in Pittsburgh.

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