While the Tennessee Titans’ starters prepare for their most extensive work of the preseason this Sunday, several players on the bubble are simply looking to make the cut.
And with most of the roster spots already secured and few reps left, it’s put up or pack up time for the below players.
Tre McBride – WR
The 2015 seventh round pick has shown flashes all summer, but has also been snake-bitten by inconsistent play according to head coach Mike Mularkey. Both were on full display last Saturday against the Carolina Panthers.
With three of the top receivers out, McBride stepped in and hauled in 4 catches for a team leading 73 yards. He also, however, dropped a wide open and catchable touchdown pass that could have gone a long way in tilting the scale in his favor.
Rishard Matthews, Eric Decker, Corey Davis, and rookie Taywan Taylor are all locks, and last year’s starter Tajae Sharpe is back from his foot injury and looking to make his preseason debut Sunday.
If the Titans only keep six receivers then the final roster spot could come down to McBride and veteran Harry Douglas, who Mularkey recently tabbed as indispensable. With Douglas, Davis, and Decker all out this week, this could be McBride’s final opportunity to prove that he is worthy of a seat in a retooled and suddenly crowded wide receiver room.
Kevin Dodd – OLB
The 2016 second round pick missed most of his rookie season with a nagging foot injury, but was able to return as a full participant since the start of this year’s training camp. After an encouraging performance in the preseason opener against the Jets it appears that Dodd has quietly faded back into anonymity.
A prolific edge rusher at Clemson, Dodd looks like he is struggling to transition to an outside linebacker in Dick LeBeau’s 3-4 scheme. Covering backs and tight ends in space has been problematic, and the impact plays simply have been too few and far between.
It’s hard to imagine Tennessee cutting Dodd after such a lofty draft slot investment last season, but we all know that general manager Jon Robinson could and possibly would ship him to a team with a defensive scheme that better fits his natural skill set.
Khalfani Muhammad – RB
Muhammad was drafted in the seventh round of this year’s draft because of his speed and ability to evade tacklers in the open field. Small in stature and shifty, the all-purpose back out of California was slated to be the change of pace back to the bruising style of Murray and Henry.
But after numerous training camp practices and two preseason games it’s evident that Muhammad is being outplayed by David Fluellen for the team’s third running back position. To make matters worse, Muhammad has struggled fielding kicks in practice and has been surpassed by rookie Adoree’ Jackson in that department. It’s an uphill climb for Muhammad now to make the roster without a super human finish to the preseason.
Eric Weems – WR / KR
Weems was one of the first free agent signings by the Titans this offseason, and was brought on board to handle the kick off and punt return duties like he did in Atlanta. But like Muhammad, Weems has been victimized by the emergence of Jackson as a game changer in the return game. And with little to no value as a receiver it’s hard to imagine him sticking around without a kick return (or two) for a touchdown to close the preseason.