The Tennessee Titans are preparing for their second preseason game when they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their home opener at Nissan Stadium.
Today we highlight five things to watch for in Saturday Night’s match up.
1. Corey Davis’ preseason debut
After missing the first five preseason games of his young career, Titans fans will finally get to see last year’s fifth overall pick get some live game work in before the start of the regular season. A plethora of lower body injuries derailed Davis’ preseason last year, and his rookie campaign took a hit because of it. With Rishard Matthews (the projected starter opposite of Davis) yet to put on pads this summer, and a host of young and unproven talent behind him, it is vitally important for Davis and quarterback Marcus Mariota to build as much chemistry as they can before the team boards the plane to play the Miami Dolphins in the regular season opener.
2. Who will join Davis in the wide receiver rotation?
The Titans were already thin at receiver going into training camp after general manager Jon Robinson elected to forgo adding help at the position in free agency and the draft. With Davis watching from the sidelines at Lambeau Field last week, the young receivers stepped up…especially with the first team. Nick Williams made his claim for a roster spot after last week’s solid performance, a 38 yard third down conversion to keep Tennessee’s opening drive alive. Darius Jennings, another unproven commodity, capped off the drive with his first touchdown in two-tone blue. With no word on when Matthews will be able to take the field, and Davis’ starting spot secured, can one of the young pups supplant second year receiver Taywan Taylor or third year receiver Tajae Sharpe for that coveted position?
3. Run Game
Plain and simple, we just didn’t see enough of it from the Twins….Derrick Henry and free agent acquisition Dion Lewis…in last week’s opener. The passing game took center stage for the starting offense, but with one series of action we didn’t see enough of the ground game to properly critique. That should change this week as the starters may see more time on the field. In addition, Tennessee’s backs haven’t been taken to the ground much this summer, and will need to get their hits in so their bodies are primed for the rigors of a 16 game regular season.
4. Blaine Gabbert
While Titans fans let out a collective sigh of relief when former backup qb Matt Cassel was not re-signed this offseason, the truth of the matter is, Blaine Gabbert has fared no better throughout training camp or last week’s preseason opener. With third-stringer Luke Falk still light years away from being trusted to run a team when the games count, Gabbert must step up his play for the Titans to feel confident about that position this year. After all, Mariota has yet to complete a full season without missing games due to injury since entering the league.
The secondary, and their self-titled mantra “My Man Catch No Balls”, had a shaky preseason debut. To make matters worse, Tampa Bay receivers Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson had their way with MMCNB during their two days of joint practices with Tennessee this week. While the defensive play calls will remain just as vanilla as last week, you want to see more fight out of the unit that may have to carry the team while the offense gains its footing this season.