The Tennessee Titans defeated the Carolina Panthers 34-27 in their second preseason game. Here are 10 things that stood out.
1. Marcus Mariota is a good QB. As if we didn’t already know this. Last week, #8 showed that he was fully healthy. Against the Panthers, he showed that he hasn’t lost a step. He made several nice throws and even ran for a first down on a zone read.
2. Derrick Henry is hard to tackle. In his second game starting in relief of the banged up DeMarco Murray, Derrick Henry scored two touchdowns. The first was a very impressive run in which he broke multiple tackles before trotting down the sideline and into the end zone. His size gives him limited ability between the tackles, but he’s nearly impossible to bring down when he gets to the edge.
3. Adoree’ Jackson is as advertised. He has yet to make a start at his actual position of corner back, but rookie Adoree’ Jackson proved on Saturday that he’s a massive threat with the ball in his hands. Throughout all of Training Camp, Jackson has made nice plays in the return game. Against the Panthers, he returned a punt for a touchdown, though it was called back due to a penalty.
4. Christian McCaffrey is explosive. This tidbit isn’t a Titans note, but it’s something that really stood out. Christian McCaffrey shoots out of a metaphorical cannon every time he touches the football, and he gave the Titans’ backup defense fits on Saturday. He’s a bigger version of Darren Sproles. NFC South, beware.
5. Kevin Dodd’s future looks grim. Jon Robinson’s first-ever second round draft pick was linebacker Kevin Dodd, whose rookie season was cut short by injury. Now he’s healthy, but he isn’t contributing at all. He leads Titans defenders in snaps through two preseason games, yet he’s been almost invisible. He needs to step it up.
6. Matt Cassel is the best backup. There is no longer a battle for the Titans’ backup quarterback spot. After Alex Tanney had a horrible first preseason game last week against the Jets, Matt Cassel played really well against the Panthers. He did a nice job of stepping up into the pocket, and ran the offense very smoothly. He’s the #2 QB.
7. Jonnu Smith will have a big role. The Titans drafted TE Jonnu Smith in the third round of last year’s draft, presumably to replace the departed Anthony Fasano. Through two preseason games, Smith has done a lot of different things for the Titans offense. He’s played fullback, he’s caught screens, and he’s been an inline blocker as a TE. He’ll be heavily relied upon as a rookie.
8. Last week’s game was meaningless. No hot takes necessary after this game. The Titans looked really good as a team, especially the offensive line. The disaster in New Jersey was nothing to worry about.
9. Kevin Byard is a star. It’s rare that an NFL safety is a good tackler, good blitzer, and good in coverage. Kevin Byard is that player. He recovered a fumble and made several nice tackles. Byard is having a really nice preseason, and he’s shown that he has a really impressive skillset. He’s in for a big sophomore season.
10. Nashville is really hot in August. Again, as if we didn’t already know this. But seriously, the heat at Nissan Stadium on Saturday was almost unbearable. Let’s hope for some shade when the Bears come into town next weekend.