Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
Javon Ringer’s turned heads in training camp and preseason action.
But I’ll be surprised if he bumps Quinton Ganther, the incumbent third back, off the roster.
I expect the Titans to keep four running backs, as they did last year. They ended 2008 with nine players at running back, fullback and tight end, and they're likely to have nine for those three spots again.
The difference will be that all four running backs can contribute on game day as opposed to 2008, when Chris Henry only dressed for the meaningless regular-season finale. Henry is the fifth back, at best, now, and the Titans won’t be keeping that many.
Ganther can carry, he can catch, he can block. He is the alternate fullback in case something happens to Ahmard Hall, though I think the team would go with more two-tight end sets if Hall is out. And Ganther plays on the four major special teams units -- punt and punt return, kickoff and kickoff return.
“Q is a professional; Q is going to be ready, whatever I’ve asked him to do, he’s been ready to do,” said Earnest Byner, the Titans' running backs coach. “... You always want to keep good players who are good people as well, and Q is one of those guys. He’s always fought, he’s always had a me-against-the-world type mentality and that has driven him …
“I talked to him about the stress of the situation. In reality, if you focus on the stress, then you are not going to be able to perform at the highest level. I think all of those guys are trying to not let the stress get to them but be driven by those emotions.”
Ganther has been a steady, quiet player who helped on special teams and ran a lot of quality scout team for the Titans since they spent a seventh-round draft pick on him in 2006 when he came out of Utah.
During his first two seasons, he got into four games but spent a lot of time on the practice squad. Last year, he played in 13 games, getting just nine carries while working primarily on special teams.
Saturday night in a preseason loss in Cleveland, Ganther saw time in the second half. He had two carries for 5 yards and two catches for 40 more. He turned a short pass from Vince Young over the middle into a nice 26-yard scamper.
“These guys know what I can do, I’ve been here four years now, so whenever I get a chance, if I get a chance, I’ve just got to make sure I am ready,” he said. “When I worry about the competition aspect of it and not getting reps and carries in a game, that’s when I lose focus on things I am supposed to be doing -- special teams, what route to run, blitz protection and things like that.
“I have no idea what they are thinking, what they are doing. That’s not for me to focus on. I have to focus on making sure I know what I am doing. Whatever the case may be, it’s on me to make it a tough decision for them.”
Last week on kickoff returns, they put him at a left wing in the back when he’d been studying left tackle. He has now studied up on both spots, just as he studies fullback and running back to be ready for any situation.
“The more you can do,” he said with a smile.