AFC South: Veterans on the roster bubble

Credit: The Tennessean-USA TODAY Sports

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We continue our series looking at one veteran player from each team who could be on their team’s roster bubble this summer.

Tennessee Titans: Tajae Sharpe

Over in Tennessee, there are several players who could be on the roster bubble, but will likely find themselves on the roster by the team the regular season comes around. Two of the most interesting players who fit that description with the Titans are running back Dion Lewis and wide receiver Tajae Sharpe.

Lewis, 28, is a six-year NFL veteran who made his Titans debut last season, starting seven of the 16 games he appeared in while getting 155 touches. He totaled 517 yards and just one touchdown on the ground while hauling in 59 passes for 400 yards and a touchdown out of the backfield. Sharpe, 24, was drafted in 2016 and spent his rookie year with the Titans before missing all of 2017 but returning in 2018. Sharpe’s production was impressive last season, as he appeared in all 16 games while starting a career-high 13, hauling in 26 of the 47 passes thrown his way for 316 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

The Titans are expected to carry three running backs and five or six receivers on their roster. Lewis would likely fall into the No. 2 spot on the running back chart, behind Derrick Henry. Plus, Lewis is terrific as a pass-catcher, so that helps his case. As for Sharpe, he’d likely be the fifth or sixth guy. Him and Taywan Taylor could end up battling for the fifth spot if Tennessee opts to carry just five receivers, but even if they go with six, Taylor isn’t a complete lock to get that slot. He’ll need to work hard this summer to keep his job.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Terrelle Pryor, Sr.

When the Jaguars added Terrelle Pryor to a contract this past offseason, it didn’t seem like an awful move. Even now, I wouldn’t knock the Jaguars for taking a flier on the former quarterback-turned-receiver. But even though he has potential, there’s no way he’s a lock for a roster spot in 2019. In fact, he is on the roster bubble as training camp draws nearer.

In 2018, splitting time with the Bills and Jets, Pryor was thrown to just 30 times in eight total games, hauling in 16 passes. He picked up 252 yards while finding the end zone twice.

The Jaguars’ top five receiver slots on the depth chart appear to be a lock; they’re filled in by Marqise Lee, Dede Westbrook, DJ Chark, Chris Conley, and Keelan Cole. It seems unlikely that the Jaguars would carry six receivers on the 53-man roster, so that’d mean Pryor would have to beat out one of the five aforementioned receivers to have a job in Jacksonville next season.

Houston Texans: Darren Fells

When discussing Texans on the roster bubble, Matt Weston of SB Nation’s Battle Red Blog writes, “My guess would be one of the veteran tight ends will be gone. Houston has the Jordan rookies, both of whom had interesting 2018 seasons. Kahale Warring may walk onto the field and be the best tight end as a rookie. You can’t carry four tight ends. Three is the typical number.” Well, Houston has four tight ends right now in Kahale Warring, Jordan Thomas, Jordan Akins, and Darren Fells, and one of them has to go. It’s got to be Fells.

Fells, 33, was signed by the Seahawks in March 2013 to a three-year deal but waived two months later. He then latched on with the Cardinals, playing with them on-and-off until the end of the 2016 season, when he signed a one-year deal with the Lions. Then, for the 2018 season, he joined the Browns. Now, he’s a Texan. It’s an impressive log for the former basketball player who didn’t play college football. But his roster spot is in serious jeopardy as training camp approaches.

Indianapolis Colts: Chris Milton

While the Colts have several veteran candidates on the roster bubble this summer, one of the biggest ones is fourth-year cornerback Chris Milton. Now 26, Milton went undrafted in 2016 and latched on the Colts, who have employed him ever since. Milton appeared in a career-high 15 games last season after playing in just six in 2016 and 14 in 2017. His one career start came in 2016. Last season, Milton recovered one fumble while making 10 tackles — five solo and five assisted.

Milton has been a key piece to the special teams unit, but, as his stats show, he has done essentially nothing in the way of notable defense. Offseason additions Rock Ya-Sin and Marvell Tell share the same special teams talent as Milton, but they also have what he lacks: defensive talent. Ya-Sin and tell bring youth, special teams talent, and defense talent, making Milton’s stock fall as he enters a crucial training camp.

About Andersen Pickard 150 Articles
Andersen is a teenage sportswriter and reporter whose articles have appeared across the Sports Illustrated Kids, Fan Source Network, and SB Nation platforms. He has also received credit from USA Today, Yahoo Sports, The Athletic, SB Nation, NBC Sports, NY Post, and dozens of other sports sites for his reporting work.

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