One of the biggest surprises to make the Tennessee Titans 53-man roster was undrafted rookie defensive tackle DaJohn Harris.
DaJohn Harris, left, made the Titans initial 53-man roster with a strong preseason
The former University of Southern California standout was passed over in the NFL Draft in large part because of a heart condition. But when the draft ended, the Titans reached out to sign him.
And on Friday, Harris rewarded them by making the team ahead of last year's seventh-round pick Zach Clayton and several veterans who were in camp with the Titans like Shaun Smith and Lamar Divens.
“Like everybody else, we did our homework on him, our due diligence on him. We were talking about it in the pre-draft conversations, our medical team's opinion on him and what they thought about bringing him in as a free agent,” Titans coach Mike Munchak said. “When the draft ended, we reached out to him early and luckily, he was very excited about coming here. A lot of other teams talked to him, but he knew Jurrell Casey. They had a relationship, and I think that meant something to him. We were thrilled to get him in here, because o-linemen and d-linemen are hard to come by when the draft ends.”
Munchak says Harris was improving each day in practice.
“We thought DaJohn was really getting better and becoming a force and rushing the passer well,” Munchak said.
As rewarding as it was for Harris, Munchak called the decision to release Clayton a tough one. He did manage to return to the roster on the practice squad, however.
“I don't know if there was any one thing. We've had Zach for a year, and you talk about tough decisions, that was probably one of the hardest ones,” Munchak said. “Zach is what you want on your team. For one year being here, the guy just works hard every day, shows up to work every day and got better when he was here. That was a very difficult decision.”
Another interesting decision for the Titans came at safety where Al Afalava beat out Aaron Francisco and Tracy Wilson for the fourth spot at the position. Wilson returned to the practice squad.
“Health became an issue too. You have to factor that in. Al has played every game. Aaron's had a couple of issues, he didn't play in the last game. Some things crept up two or three times in the preseason. But that was definitely a tough decision,” Munchak said.
Others who had health problems in preseason, such as Dave Ball, Terrence Wheatley, Ryan Durand, Kevin Malast and Leger Douzable were all routed to injured reserve, where settlements likely await them. Douzable, according to Munchak, will likely need season-ending surgery to correct his shoulder problem.
“You have someone else and maybe they're pretty even, and that makes the decision for you in some cases. You need healthy guys,” Munchak explained. “You have to suit up 46 and you have to worry about having the right combination to win. We can't have a bunch of guys that are hurt that we are carrying on our roster. You have to have a fine line between that.”
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