When players return to their respectable organizations during this time of the year, they prepare their selves to spend just over a month grinding away on practice fields in the unbearable heat of the summer.
The return to positional responsibilities, playbook studying, film watching, the act of achieving certain personal goals, and everything else in between that’s tied to the rather plain concept of training camp.
All of those things are actions even the most experienced of players sometimes dread. But the love of the game and the likely comfortable financial security football provides gives them the motivation to push through and make it to the beginning of the regular season.
However, it’s a different situation for the the players that don’t get paid the big time contracts, the players that make a living fighting to stay on the back end of a depth chart.
These sets of athletes are forced to eliminate their own destinies as afterthoughts and do so by smashing through the roofs known as competition, while also crushing another teammate’s dream in the process.
Yes, that process sounds a bit harsh, but it’s the reality of camp.
That’s why when you take a look at the competition going down right now between a certain group of receivers on the Tennessee Titans’ roster, you’ll feel that familiar sense of competition and desperation you’re so accustomed to seeing each time a new training camp rolls around.
The Titans’ depth chart at receiver looks pretty set at spots 1-4. It’s the 5-6, maybe even 5-7 spots that stand to see the most change out of any positional group on the roster. With that in mind, I wanted to take a stab at predicting which of these candidates for those extra spots are in the best position to essentially lock down a job. I’ll structure this specific part by separating the candidates into three groups.
Players that have realistic chances to make the roster, players that have unrealistic chances, and players that essentially don’t have a chance at all.
That won’t be all though.
I also want to give my thoughts on the total number of receivers the team should keep, what number I think the coaching staff will decide on, and who I think will ultimately walk away with the ultimate prize(s).
Sounds pretty simple right?
That’s because it is.
Lets jump into it.
Who Has a Realistic Chance to Make The Roster?
Racey McMath- McMath came into training camp facing a bit of an uphill battle to make the roster. His size and impressive downfield speed gave him some physical tools to hold over the rest of competition, but he was still a raw player with a lot to be desired in the technical aspect of his game.
But with a handful of camp practices now in the books, it looks like the ex-LSU Tiger has put himself in a good position to stick on the 53 man roster once camp concludes. The interesting thing with him is that his physical attributes aren’t just your average run of the mill ones you see in a receiver.
They’re special ones that can serve as a really good foundation for his development. I don’t know if that alone will be enough for McMath to secure a 53 man roster spot, but if it doesn’t, I’m sure the team would love to stash him on the practice squad and get to work on developing the holes in his game.
Nick Westbook-Ikhine- Westbrook-Ikhine saw playing time in 2020 due to his ability as a gunner in special teams. However, that role of his could be in jeopardy due to the emergence of rookie Racey McMath.
I honestly think he’s in a better position to keep his spot simply because he played well on special teams last season. But McMath has improved a great deal, so nothing is set in stone.
Chester Rogers- Unlike McMath and Westbrook-Ikhine, Chester Rogers is a smaller slot receiver that makes a living by embarrassing corners with shiftiness and speed. He’s what you’d call a traditional slot receiver, possessing a height at around six feet flat and weighing under 190 pounds.
He’s impressed in camp, mainly as a receiver due to the absences and practice limitations of Julio Jones, Josh Reynolds, and sometimes A.J. Brown. But he’s competing with Mason Kinsey and Cameron Batson for the starting punt returner job, so if there’s an easy path to roster for Rogers, it’ll come in the way of special teams.
We can’t completely conclude where he stands on the depth chart because pre-season actuon hasn’t started for the Titans just yet. Once it does though, we’ll really get to see what opportunities he’ll receive to leave a strong impression on this coaching staff and general manager Jon Robinson.
Marcus Johnson- The ex-Indianapolis Colt has a bit of height to him at 6’1, so he doesn’t really fall in the same small slot group like Cameron Batson, Mason Kinsey, or Chester Rogers. But he isn’t overwhelming physical presence either like A.J. Brown, Julio Jones, or Racey McMath.
Because of that, it can sometimes be hard to correlate his roster situation to the success or failure of another player with similar physical and technical attributes. Either way, the team likes what he’s done so far and he has some special teams experience to his name as well.
I think he has a respectable shot at sticking on the 53 man roster, but he’ll have to hold off all the competition around him if he wants to do so.
Cameron Batson- There will come a time when the Titans decide to move on from Batson, but I don’t think that time is coming anytime soon. Batson hasn’t been one of the team’s most talented and target receivers, but he’s hid himself on the back of the depth chart, mostly as a depth receiver that’ll get snaps whenever the offense needs some speed.
He has some competition this time around in Chester Rogers and 2020 UDFA Mason Kinsey, but if I had to bet on who’d win that battle at the end of the day, my safest bet would be on Batson walking away as the victor.
Anything can happen though, so nothing is set in stone.
Who Has an Unrealistic Chance to Make The Roster?
Fred Brown- Brown is another slot option the team could consider, but I believe there are a few other options that are better positions to steal roster spots right about now. If he can prove his worth on special teams, then I guess he’d have a better shot to stick on the active roster.
But Racey McMath and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine look like the two receivers most suited to contribute heavily on special teams, so there might be a bit of a problem there for Brown.
Mason Kinsey- The ex-Columbia product has proven to be a shifty slot option that the team could stash on the back end of the depth chart. But is that really a move this team would be interested in making when there’s more experienced slot options on the roster.
I doubt it.
That’s why I find it hard to imagine Kinsey making this roster purely as a receiver. However, if he can separate himself from the rest of the pack by showing off his reliability as a punt returner — the Titans don’t currently have a certified punt returner at the moment — then Kinsey will end up making this roster 100%.
Who Doesn’t Have a Chance to Make the Roster?
Kalija Lipscomb- Lipscomb was productive during his time at Vanderbilt, but he’s never found that same sort of consistency and success in the NFL. He’s bounced around the league a bit, signing with the Kansas City Chiefs as a UDFA last off-season, then landing on the Green Bay Packers’ practice squad before being cut again.
He signed with the Titans this past off-season looking to find some career related footing. But as it stands now, Lipscomb looks set to be axed from his third NFL team. He’s behind a number of players on the imaginary receiver importance chart, and he isn’t that much of a special teams player, so his route to securing a spot on the active roster looks dicey at best.
Cody Hollister- A player that essentially has no shot at making the roster, but still competes day in and day out during the dog days of summer is what we call a camp body. That’s what Hollister is at this point, a camp body that’s used as a method of insurance whenever a regular starter goes down, or as a replacement for when a veteran needs a maintenance day.
He doesn’t provide much on special teams either, which is the only surefire way bubble players can consistently get playing time from day one. Hollister isn’t bad by any means, but he simply just doesn’t have a spot on the active roster.
How Many Receivers Should the Team Keep?
This question isn’t relatively difficult to answer.
The team could opt to do what they did last year by keeping six receivers and rolling the dice on stashing away a couple of intriguing prospects on the practice squad.
Or they could keep seven receivers and cut away an extra roster spot in another positional group. This scenario has a very slim chance of occurring in my opinion, but it’s one that’s become a small topic of discussion since there’s so much talent in the receiver group.
I think they’ll ultimately keep just six receivers though. Simply because cutting away an extra roster spot for a depth receiver that’ll likely not see the field at all within this current offense is nothing more than a foolish attempt at roster roulette.
Final Answer: 6 Receivers
Here’s How Many Receivers I Think the Team Will Keep
I just mentioned my personal opinion regarding how many receivers the team should keep. But what about the team themselves? How many receivers will the actual decisions decide to keep?
If you take a look back at 2019 and 2020, you’d find that the team kept six receivers after the final cut day. Including a surprise retention of Cody Hollister’s services in 2019. Jumping ahead to present time, I think the team will decide to keep six receivers once again.
Not only because of Todd Downing’s tendency to roll with three wide receiver sets — a rather eye opening decision considering the mantra of this team — but also due to the depth of talent that resides at this specific position. I don’t think they’re willing to just cut a talented depth piece just for the sake of roster numbers, so I wouldn’t count on someone who’s deserving of a spot being slashed from the roster just because.
I could be entirely wrong here, but based on past actions and tendencies of the newest play called, I think my opinion is in line with the team’s thinking.
Final Answer: 6 Receivers
So Who Gets The Final Nods?
The safe choice here would be to select Westbrook-Ikhine and Cameron Batson as the winners of this camp battle. But the emergence of Racey McMath, Marcus Johnson, and Chester Rogers have made things pretty interesting.
We’ll have to wait until pre-season action begins to get an accurate judgement on the conclusion of this situation. So for now, it’s best make a decision based on the information that’s available.
Final Answer: Nick Westbrook-Ikhine and Chester Rogers