Tennessee Titans football is back. Winning football—not quite yet.
The Washington Redskins pulled off a 22-21 victory at LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans took a 14-7 lead before most of their starters exited the game in the second quarter. They had a 21-14 lead late in the fourth quarter. Redskins No. 3 quarterback Pat White orchestrated a late-game drive when he scored on a nine-yard touchdown run and completed a two-point conversion pass to Emmanuel Ogbuehi. The Titans failed to score again.
Here’s a look at some of the Titans’ studs and duds from the preseason opener.
Stud: Marc Mariani
Congratulations to Marc Mariani. Coming back from that gruesome leg injury and having a great return that was negated because of a pointless holding penalty. Good to see him back and competing for a roster spot.
Stud: Chris Johnson
How about that 58-yard touchdown run when Chris Johnson “broke the ankles” of rookie safety Bacarri Rambo. Almost age 28, Johnson still has his jets.
Dud: Tommie Campbell, Non-Starting Cornerbacks
Some fans and critics have suggested that Alterraun Verner doesn’t fit into the man-press scheme. He’d either get buried on the depth chart or not make the team. Verner won’t have to worry about that when Rex Grossman leads a touchdown drive after he keeps throwing on Tommie Campbell’s side of the field.
For the most part, the cornerbacks didn’t play too aggressive. Maybe that played a role in the unspectacular play from Coty Sensabaugh, Blidi Wreh-Wilson (who did sniff out one wide-receiver screen) or Campbell. Regardless, it’s not good when Grossman can consistently make a cornerback look below-average.
Stud: Shonn Greene
Five carries for 32 yards and a 19-yard touchdown run. Having a quality change-of-pace back like Shonn Greene should help this offense and keep a fresh pair of legs for the fourth quarter. Greene already made his presence felt on short-yardage situations.
Few of the second- and third-team players stood out. Jackie Battle made a case for the No. 3 running back job when he displayed some impressive power on a screen pass. Damian Williams made some solid grabs. Quinn Johnson was left uncovered on a nine-yard touchdown reception. Karl Klug had two quarterback hits.
No reserves won a job tonight. Defensive reserves played poorly and made crucial mistakes that extended drives. Although Grossman finished 10-for-21, many of his incompletions came on drops or overthrows, not from solid coverage.
Stud: Offensive Line (Run-Blocking)
Here’s the combined stat line for Johnson and Green: Seven carries for 92 yards and two touchdowns. Chance Warmack was dominant as a run-blocker. He looked like he was playing against some scrub defenders from a Division I-AA college. From a rookie seeing his first in-game action, that was impressive.
Dud: Offensive Line (Pass-Blocking)
Most fans were excited from what the offensive line did. At the same time, Michael Roos and Warmack were both beaten for sacks. Jake Locker had limited time to throw. That may have played a partial (not total) role in his conservative approach.
Roos’ sack was an anomaly and Warmack will develop throughout the preseason. Not concerned about this.
This was an encouraging performance in that for the first time in two seasons, it felt like this offense had an identity. The Titans want to run the football and simplify everything for their third-year signal-caller. Locker’s stat line wasn’t impressive (7-for-11 for 58 yards) and he almost threw an interception on his first pass attempt (ironically, a downfield pass). Keep an eye on how offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains uses Locker in these next couple of games.
Defensively, this wasn’t an encouraging performance. It’s hard to dictate how much of that was from a vanilla game plan. The Redskins converted more than 50 percent of their third downs (8-for-15), had 163 rushing yards and took advantage of foolish fourth quarter penalties. For the Titans, there was no evidence of depth on either side of the football. That’s especially true for the defense.
Preseason games continue on Aug. 17. The Cincinnati Bengals will host the Titans. The Bengals (1-0) enter that game after winning their preseason opener, 34-10. All 34 points came after the first quarter. Expect a good challenge for the reserves.
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