Harry Douglas is slated to follow the same path as Dexter McCluster
The most dreaded time of the year for players who find themselves living on the roster bubble is not far away. For some, this time of year brings a lot more stress than others.
Late round rookies and undrafted players raise their level of competition to stand out as often as possible. For these players, enough productivity can position them for a spot on the practice squad. They’ll be given the extra time to acquire reps, develop further, and eventually have the chance to be called up to the main roster if need be.
Aging veterans must answer the questions of what value they bring to the team. They’re faced with proving they still have some juice left in the tank and prove they’re worth keeping around instead of going with youth at the position. Veterans are hoping their NFL experience will give them the edge over rookies who show flashes of potential during the offseason program.
A lot of minds join to decide the fate of such players. Some have a little more clout than others in the final decision of who makes the cut. For some players, offseason moves give better indication to what the writing on the wall really is.
For Titans Wide Receiver Harry Douglas, he faces an uphill battle. But his fate is looking eerily similar to a former Titan player with veteran experience under his belt that got the ax last season – Dexter McCluster.
In the 2016 offseason, new GM Jon Robinson was making some moves in Nashville. He finalized a trade landing veteran RB DeMarco Murray from the Philadelphia Eagles. He drafted RB Derrick Henry in the second round. RB Antonio Andrews had youth and previous season production on his side heading the offseason. All of these three factors did not help McCluster’s case in staying with the team.
He was well liked by the coaching staff. McCluster replaced Left Tackle Taylor Lewan as team captain in 2015. The coaches admired the hard work and dedication McCluster brought to the team. The production – however – was suspect.
According to a report from A to Z Sports Nashville’s Austin Stanley, the McCluster cut came down to what Jon Robinson wanted. He had the final say – despite Head Coach Mike Mularkey advocating to keep McCluster. Although he believed he could add a different dynamic to the running game, Robinson won and McCluster was out.
Douglas is approaching the exact same fate. In the 2017 offseason, the Titans spent two picks in the top 3 rounds on Wide Receivers Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor. They added veteran WR Eric Decker into the fold. Douglas’ only hope involves a scenario in which WR Tajae Sharpe either can’t recover fully or something case-altering comes to light with his offseason assault that would invoke an automatic dismissal from the team. Both of which seem highly unlikely.
Although Douglas is a favorable player with the coaching staff, Robinson is keeping guys on the team because he likes them. He’s valuing overall production. He’s building competition at every position in order to put the best 53 football players on the football field on Sunday. Although I’m sure Robinson doesn’t have anything negative to say about Douglas – because he does seem like a nice guy – he’s not going to let his personal feelings dictate his roster decision.
Titans’ fans can see clearly that Douglas making the roster would be an absolute shocker – and that’s an understatement. Does Douglas have a firm grasp of the playbook? Absolutely, he’s practically a walking playbook for this offense. Is that valuable? Last season it was, but the Titans WR corps in 2017 will be composed of a more talented group of guys – all of which who seem to have a very high football IQ. If their grasp of the offense is clear during training camp and Preseason, Douglas is gone.
Mularkey and Offensive Coordinator Terry Robiskie will do their best to try to convince Robinson that Douglas deserves a spot on the final 53, but the buck stops with Robinson.
If history repeats itself and the writing on the wall rings true, Douglas may find himself in a similar role he had in Tennessee – just not in Tennessee.
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Feature Image Photo Credit/Wesley Hitt, Getty Images
Dexter McCluster Photo Credit/Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports