The Titans’ personnel department and coaching staffs wanted to make the decisions this week as difficult as possible.
Tennessee used a huge splash in free agency to add deep talent across the roster and followed it with a draft that drew considerable praise. Opportunistic undrafted free agents signed shortly thereafter, and the team went to work in phases this spring to prepare for all the changes the Titans have in mind for 2013.
All NFL teams were allowed to open training camp with 90 players but must reduce their rosters to 75 by 3 p.m. CT Tuesday and down to 53 by 3 p.m. CT Saturday. Some teams began the process Sunday but Titans coach Mike Munchak said the team hadn’t yet made any of those decisions when he held his day-after game press conference Sunday.
Multiple factors affect decisions, including the production, experience and health of each player and across each position group, as well as versatility. The wild cards that come from outside a team’s facility and training camp are the decisions made by 31 other teams during their roster reductions.
Receiver Michael Preston knows this drill. Preston, who played collegiately at Heidelberg University, signed with the Titans as an undrafted rookie in 2011 but was released as the preseason concluded and signed to Tennessee’s practice squad two days later. He spent all of that season on the practice squad and returned for training camp in 2012. Again, Preston missed the final cut and signed with Tennessee’s practice squad. The hard work was rewarded in December when he was signed to the active roster and played the final four games of the regular season.
Preston’s camp has included several nice grabs on the practice field, downfield blocking on run plays and for teammates after catches and eight receptions for team-bests: of 144 yards, an average of 18 yards per catch and two touchdowns.
Munchak was asked about Preston’s bid for a roster spot after Saturday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons in which Preston caught a 56-yard pass and a short touchdown in Tennessee’s 27-16 win.
“You want those kinds of tough decisions. You want guys playing well like that like he has been,” Munchak said. “He has gotten better every year since he has been here. He was working at it. He makes some decisions tough, but again, it was good to see him go out there and make plays. He plays special teams also. He’s done a nice job.”
Senior defensive assistant Gregg Williams said last week that preseason games are incredibly important to defensive coaches because, as one of the small windows for full-contact football, they allow more accurate assessments. Williams said personnel will determine the number and type of packages he and defensive coordinator Jerry Gray will implement this season.
“The most important thing we do as a coaching staff and organization is pick the right 53, and that’s not easy,” Williams said. “It’s not easy when you’re in basically underwear, shorts, and now there’s an awful lot of non-contact stuff that we do in the training camp, so we’ve got to use these games as a great evaluation tool to pick the right 53, and once we get that done, the packages will develop and we get guys in crucial situations and special situations we’ll develop packages for those guys.”
Tags: Gregg Williams, Michael Preston, Mike Munchak, NFL, nfl Preseason, Tennessee, Tennessee Titans
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