Are the Tennessee Titans ready to treat their third preseason game as if it were a warmup to the regular season? Not quite. It’s not much of a dress rehearsal when half of the defensive starters are either nursing injuries or they haven’t been set for the Week 1 opener.
Let’s run through the list of starting defensive players and top reserves who’ve been ruled out for the Aug. 24 preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons:
DT Sammie Lee Hill (elbow)
DE Ropati Pitoitua (hand)
LB Akeem Ayers (ankle)
LB Colin McCarthy (hamstring)
LB Zach Brown (foot)
McCarthy has probably lost his starting job now that he’ll miss his third preseason game. Moise Fokou (who was battling his own soreness ailments earlier this week) will likely start Week 1. A high ankle sprain will keep Zaviar Gooden from making his in-game debut. Alterraun Verner will share playing time with Tommie Campbell against the first-teamers.
None of these injuries are considered serious and they’re all expected to return before Sep. 8. There’s a chance that Ayers may not return before Week 1. Ayers was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain. That’s the same injury that has kept Gooden off the field. Brown remains out with a bruised and sprained foot. It sounds as though the coaches are taking precautionary measures with him and he could play if required. No need to take that risk during preseason games.
How will this affect the Titans defense when they face the Falcons’ no-huddle offense? Are you expecting another vanilla defensive game plan?
Two-and-a-half weeks before the real games begin.