NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Spirits are high around Tennessee Titans headquarters after an impressive performance Saturday against the Carolina Panthers. Marcus Mariota praised the depth of his secondary receivers who made plays with Eric Decker, Corey Davis and Rishard Matthews out.
Receiver depth is a new, pleasant problem for the Titans. With two weeks until cut day, it's getting competitive on the back end of the receiver roster to determine who will make the team. That leads to our Titans mailbag question of the week:
Given the seeming emergence of Tre Mcbride and the love coaches have for Douglas, how many WR do we end with and who are they?— Lito (@pault0rr35) August 20, 2017
First, there are four receiver locks assuming they are all healthy to start the regular season: Decker, Davis, Matthews and impressive third-round pick Taywan Taylor. Beyond that there are four leading contenders for what will likely be two more spots.
The Titans kept six receivers at cut-down day last season. With more talent it seems like they'll go that route again in 2017.
Sharpe is the wild card of this competition. He would probably be a lock if he was healthy and productive, but the 2016 fifth-round pick hasn't practiced since having foot surgery in June. He was a key contributor in 2016 with 41 catches for 522 yards. If Sharpe is healthy, and the Titans say he's getting close to a return, he should be on the Titans roster. If he's not healthy, Sharpe could be a candidate to start the season on the physically unable to perform list. What the Titans do with Sharpe -- keep, PUP, trade (which general manager Jon Robinson always has his ears open to) or cut -- will have a big impact on the rest of the receiver breakdown.
Douglas appeared to be the odd man out after the Titans drafted Davis and Taylor then signed Decker, but he's quieting that talk recently. Mike Mularkey put a major stamp of approval on Douglas, calling him "invaluable" last week. That makes it seem like Tennessee is going to find a way to keep him on the roster due to his leadership with the young guys and reliability.
McBride has flashed more than any of these four players, showing a different speed dynamic that the Titans could use beside their plethora of possession receivers. He led the Titans with four catches for 73 yards in Saturday's game, but he dropped an easy touchdown pass from Matt Cassel. Mularkey said McBride needs to be more consistent than he has been this training camp.
Finally, Weems doesn't provide much as a receiver but he's a return specialist they signed in free agency for his burst and reliability. Special teams has been a problem for the Titans in recent years, but Adoree' Jackson has taken hold of the punt-return job in impressive fashion. It may not be prudent to keep Weems as a kick returner and backup punt returner who doesn't contribute as a receiver.
If I was making a projection today, I'd say the Titans keep Davis, Decker, Matthews, Taylor, Sharpe (assuming he's healthy by Week 1) and Douglas edging out McBride.