Several factors come into play as Titans make cuts, build 'best team'

Saturday, September 1, 2012 at 2:17pm

With the start of the regular season still more than a week away, Mike Munchak cannot guarantee that he and his staff made the right decisions.

The Tennessee Titans coach is confident, though, that they made they right decisions when they settled on their 53-man roster Friday night.

“We owe it to this team to have the best guys in this room and you take into [account] … injuries and different things that effect who you keep and who you don’t keep on different parts of your roster,” Munchak said Saturday afternoon. “We owe it to them and we owe it to the fan base to put together the best team we feel we can put together.

“We feel we’ve made some good decisions on that right now.”

Among the 16 players waived in the final round of cuts were three who spent all of last season with the team – defensive end Malcolm Sheppard, cornerback Chris Hawkins and defensive tackle Zach Clayton, the only Titans draft pick (seventh round, 2011) who failed to make the team.

Another five lost out to injures and were placed on injured reserve with the idea that the sides eventually will negotiate a settlement so that the players can be waited. That group included veteran defensive end Dave Ball and guard Ryan Durand, a seventh-round pick in 2009.

The roster includes more running backs than usual – five, including return man Darius Reynaud and fullback Quinn Johnson – and fewer wide receivers – four, minus Kenny Britt who is serving a one-week suspension.

All five cornerbacks who made it were drafted by the Titans within the last four years, a factor that clearly impacted Hawkins, who came to the franchise as a late-season addition to the practice squad in 2010.

The defensive linemen outnumber their offensive counterparts by one (10-9). A year ago, there were 10 of each.

“When we met [Saturday] morning, you’re excited for them, the guys sitting here, and the fact that they’re a part of this team going forward,” Munchak said. “A lot of them were wondering how it was going to work out for them. So you’re happy for them. You’re happy for the team moving on to the next phase.”

ROSTER BREAKDOWN
(projected starters in bold; professional experience in parentheses)

OFFENSE

Quarterbacks: Matt Hasselbeck (14), Jake Locker (2), Rusty Smith (2).

Running backs: Jamie Harper (2), Chris Johnson (5), Quinn Johnson (4), Darius Reynaud (4), Javon Ringer (4).

Wide receivers: Lavelle Hawkins (5), Nate Washington (8), Damian Williams (2), Kendall Wright (R). Suspended -- Kenny Britt (4).

Tight ends: Jared Cook (4), Craig Stevens (5), Taylor Thompson (R).

Offensive line: Leroy Harris (6), Steve Hutchinson (12), Troy Kropog (3), Kevin Matthews (1), Mike Otto (5), Michael Roos (8), David Stewart (8), Byron Stingily (2), Fernando Velasco (3).

DEFENSE

Defensive ends: Keyunta Dawson (5), Pannel Egboh (1), Derrick Morgan (3), Scott Solomon (R), Kamerion Wimbley (7).

Defensive tackles: Jurrell Casey (2), DaJohn Harris (R), Karl Klug (2), Sen’Derrick Marks (4), Mike Martin (R).

Linebackers: Akeem Ayers (2), Patrick Bailey (5), Zach Brown (R), Zac Diles (5), Colin McCarthy (2), Tim Shaw (5), Will Witherspoon (11).

Cornerbacks: Tommie Cambell (2), Jason McCourty (4), Ryan Mouton (4), Coty Sensabaugh (R), Alterraun Verner (3).

Safety: Al Afalava (3), Jordan Babineaux (9), Michael Griffin (6), Robert Johnson (2),

SPECIALISTS

Kicker: Rob Birons (8).

Long-snapper: Beau Brinkley (R).

Punter: Brett Kern (5).

PRACTICE SQUAD
Brandon Barden, TE, Zach Clayton, DT, Collin Mooney, FB, Michael Preston, Tracy Wilson, S.