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Titans make finals cuts before season start

Terry McCormick TitanInsider Network • Dec 17, 2015 at 5:17 PM

The Tennessee Titans reached the 53-man roster limit on Saturday, quickly making 11 of the 12 remaining moves, and then debating about the final one.

The final move involved the release of Fernando Velasco, last year's primary starting center, and came hours after the other 11 moves had been made.

One of the moves that created plenty of debate was the decision to place return man/wide receiver Marc Mariani on injured reserve with a shoulder injury suffered in the preseason opener. By making the move, Mariani, a Pro Bowl return man, goes to injured reserve for a second straight year as he was coming back from a serious leg injury suffered in the 2012 preseason.

In addition to Mariani, the Titans released veteran linebacker Tim Shaw, who had served as Tennessee's special teams captain for the past couple of seasons.

The Titans also dropped quarterback Rusty Smith, who is eligible for the practice squad if he clears waivers.

Others let go by the Titans included receiver Rashad Ross, defensive tackle Stefan Charles, linebacker Jonathan Willard, tight end Jack Doyle, rookie sixth-round cornerback Khalid Wooten, fullback Collin Mooney, safety Corey Lynch and linebacker/defensive end Scott Solomon, who was a seventh-round pick in 2012.

Velasco originally signed with the Titans in 2008 as an undrafted free agent from the University of Georgia. He spent 2008 and most of 2009 on the Tennessee practice squad before being elevated to the active roster. He served as a backup for most of 2010 and 2011 before starting all 16 games as both a center and guard last year.

Mariani was a Pro Bowl return man as a rookie in 2010 and held the job through 2011. When he was injured, it opened the door for Darius Reynaud to claim the role last year.

In releasing Shaw, the Titans drop down to six linebackers on the roster, meaning they could potentially claim a linebacker after sifting through other teams' cuts. Kamerion Wimbley might also be used some as a linebacker in certain situations.

Smith was a sixth-round pick in 2010 and started one game as a rookie that year, a loss to the Houston Texans.  He spent his time with the Titans as a third-string quarterback, but the Titans found themselves to be only able to carry Jake Locker and Ryan Fitzpatrick on the roster this year.

Smith, as well as a number of the other rookies and first-year players who were released, are possibilities for the practice squad.

Friday's cuts

The Tennessee Titans began making moves to get down to 53 players by letting go of 10 players on Friday.

Included in that group were veteran safety Al Afalava and second-year defensive tackle DaJohn Harris, both of whom were on the Titans' 53-man roster for all of the 2012 season. Running back Jalen Parmele, signed by the Titans as a free agent, was also let go.

Others cut included receiver Dontel Watkins, defensive tackles Zach Clayton and Nigel Nicholas, tight end Brandon Barden, offensive tackle Daniel Baldridge, guard Kasey Studdard and linebacker Gary Guyton.

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