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VOL. 45 | NO. 36 | Friday, September 3, 2021

Good players face reality of roster limits, especially at wide receiver

By Terry McCormick

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One thing about the Tennessee Titans that might be different this year than any other in a long time is just how steep the competition has been for roster spots.

By the time you read this, cuts will have been made, the original 53-man roster will have been chosen and many guys who made sizable contributions in camp and the preseason will be gone.

Some will get a call back to be on the practice squad, while unlike in many years past, others will get an opportunity somewhere else to land on a roster or taxi squad.

One of those players is receiver Cameron Batson (update: he made the 53-man roster), who finished the preseason with a touchdown catch against the Bears that he had to hope would get him noticed enough by coaches to make his way through a crowded wide receiver room.

That’s nothing new for Batson, who if he made the roster he did so by the slimmest of margins. If he didn’t, he knows he played well enough for another team to sign him or for the Titans to re-sign him to the practice squad.

“The biggest thing is you can’t control anything besides your play and what you do on a day-to-day basis,” Batson says. “So, every day you just have to take one foot in front of the other, keep going out there and pushing regardless of the circumstances.”

Few liked Batson’s chances entering preseason camp given all the Titans did in the offseason, trading for Julio Jones, signing Josh Reynolds and drafting Dez Fitzpatrick and Racey McMath.

And if that wasn’t enough, Chester Rogers, who spent last year on the practice squad, has been outstanding in trying to claim Batson’s job as the punt and kickoff returner. And Marcus Johnson was one of the most solid receivers in camp after being a latecomer to the Titans a year ago.

To his credit, Batson didn’t get caught up in how steep the competition was at the position.

“We know the competition is there. We try to push each other, complement each other, and that the biggest key is building a foundation, being teammates. When one guy does good, try to compliment them, and you know, the next guy makes plays as well,” he adds.

But no matter the end result for Batson, he feels good about the account he gave in camp against long odds.

“Me and the guys were joking, they would say like, ‘They can’t measure your heart,’ and that’s the thing, like I have a big heart. You can measure my height, my weight, but I’m going to go out there and give it my all regardless of my size,” Batson says.

Despite the crowded room and long odds, the Titans brass did take notice of Batson just as they have now for the better part of four years. Batson surprised many by earning a roster spot in 2018, then spent 2019 on injured reserve. He beat the odds again in 2020, taking advantage of the expanded practice squad rules.

Offensive coordinator Todd Downing says he appreciates guys like Batson, no matter what the end result.

“He’s got that competitive spirit and that grit, that toughness,” Downing points out. “We have a talented receiver group and there’s some depth there, and obviously powers above me have some tough decisions to make, but Cam’s going to give you everything he has every time he lines up and we appreciate that.”

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