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Roster Analysis: Tennessee Titans

The SportsXchange

Here is an in-depth look at the Tennessee Titans as they prepare for their season-opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, 1 p.m. ET.

UNIT BY UNIT ANALYSIS:

QUARTERBACKS: Starter - Jake Locker. Backup - Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Locker enters the season, not having to worry about Matt Hasselbeck looking over his shoulder as he did last year in camp when there was a battle for the starting job. Fitzpatrick comes over from the Bills to fill in the No. 2 role.

RUNNING BACKS: Starters - Chris Johnson, Quinn Johnson (FB). Backups - Shonn Greene, Jackie Battle, Darius Reynaud.

Chris Johnson's numbers should improve as he runs behind a stronger offensive line this season. Quinn Johnson will start, but the Titans will run a lot of two tight end sets as well. Greene will serve as Johnson's caddy this season in short yardage and the four-minute offense. Battle earned a spot with a strong camp, while Reynaud's role is as the return man.

TIGHT ENDS: Starter - Delanie Walker. Backups - Craig Stevens, Taylor Thompson.

Walker comes over from the 49ers and will have a variety of roles as the H-back and receiving tight end. Stevens will see plenty of action as well as the Titans will go often from the two tight end set. Thompson is still a developmental player, whose can play both spots.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters - Kenny Britt, Nate Washington. Backups - Kendall Wright, Damian Williams, Justin Hunter, Michael Preston.

Britt is in the final year of his contract, and the Titans hope he can finally fulfill his first-round potential. Washington is a steady veteran, and Wright led the team in catches a year ago, playing a lot from the slot. Williams is a steady backup, while Hunter, a second-round pick, is learning on the job. Preston had a strong preseason to earn a spot.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters - LT Michael Roos, LG Andy Levitre, C Rob Turner, RG Chance Warmack, RT David Stewart. Backups - T Mike Otto, T Byron Stingily, C/G Chris Spencer, C/G Brian Schwenke.

This group has been completely revamped with only Stewart and Roos returning from a year ago in the starting lineup. Levitre comes over from the Bills as a high-dollar free agent. Turner comes in from St. Louis and won the center position. Warmack, the first-round pick, starts as a rookie. Schwenkie could have won the center job as a rookie, save for a hamstring injury. Otto and Stingily are decent fill-ins, and Spencer beat out last year's starting center Fernando Velasco to earn a spot.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters - LDE Derrick Morgan, LDT Sammie Hill, RDT Jurrell Casey, RDE Ropati Pitoitua. Backups - DE Kamerion Wimbley, DT Mike Martin, DT Antonio Johnson, DT/DE Karl Klug, DE Keyunta Dawson, DE Lavar Edwards.

Another group that had several additions, Morgan and Casey return as starters from a year ago. Hill is another big body who fills the bill of the Titans wanting to get bigger on the interior. Pitoitua is that way too, and will play vs. the run. Wimbley, a former starter, has had his role reduced and specalized. Martin and Johnson are solid backups on the interior, while Klug is valuable in the nickel package as an inside rusher and can play end, too. Dawson will play on passing down, and Edwards, a rookie, will rotate in on the outside as a backup.

LINEBACKERS: Starters - SLB Akeem Ayers, MLB Moise Fokou, WLB Zach Brown. Backups - SLB Patrick Bailey, MLB Colin McCarthy, WLB Zaviar Gooden.

Ayers and Brown could be poised to break out after being much improved over the final part of the season. Ayers moves to rush end in the nickel package. Fokou unseated McCarthy, a former team captain, at middle linebacker, because the latter could not stay healthy. Bailey is a special teams ace, while Gooden has been slowed with a high ankle sprain.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters - LCB Jason McCourty, FS Michael Griffin, SS Bernard Pollard, RCB Alterraun Verner. Backups - CB Coty Sensabaugh, CB Tommie Campbell, CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson, S George Wilson, S Daimion Stafford.

McCourty is solid, while Verner had to fend off Campbell to retain his starting job. Griffin struggled last year, but the Titans hope he will be better now that he is playing more of a centerfield role. Pollard brings attitude and toughness to a defense that needs it. Wilson is a veteran backup, who will play in certain packages. Sensabaugh won the nickelback spot, while Wreh-Wilson and Stafford will hope to find roles beyond special teams as rookies.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Starters - K Rob Bironas, P Brett Kern, LS Beau Brinkley, KR Darius Reynaud.

Bironas re-signed in the off-season and has been solid over the years. Kern continues to get better as a punter, while Brinkley is in his second year after making the squad last year as a rookie. Reynaud won the return job when Marc Mariani hurt his shoulder.
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