It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Football is back, and the Tennessee Titans preseason is about to begin. They will be taking on the Green Bay Packers tonight at 7 pm. Here are some things to watch for in the first contest of the 2018 preseason.
The biggest question mark on the Titans roster, by far, is the wide receiver group. In order for the group to be successful, we expected Corey Davis to stay healthy, and develop into a true number one receiver. We also expected Rishard Matthews to continue his reliable play as one of Marcus Mariota’s top targets. So far in training camp, Davis has been inconsistent and missed one practice. Matthews has been on the physically unable to perform list with an undisclosed injury.
If those trends persist throughout the preseason, they will become very concerning. With those injuries, preseason is still presenting a chance for the young receivers on the roster to make an impression. Davis still has a chance to make a strong impression that he has developed this off season starting tonight. Watch for Taywan Taylor, who has made a strong impression playing on the outside in camp.
The fourth and fifth receiver spots are a particularly interesting battles. Darius Jennings and Tajae Sharpe are both trying to solidify their spot on the roster, but undrafted rookie Deontay Burnett has made a strong impression early in camp. It’s hard to believe that Sharpe wouldn’t make the roster, and with Michael Campanaro appearing to be safely on the team due to his special teams’ ability, it will likely come down to either Burnett or Jennings. If either puts together a noteworthy preseason, it will give them an inside track to the 53-man roster.
- Rookie Draft Class
First-round pick Rashaan Evans suffered an injury early in camp and hasn’t practiced since. He won’t play tonight and perhaps in the preseason at all. Harold Landry has taken plenty of snaps against Taylor Lewan in practice, which could be his toughest matchup all season. Landry was widely regarded as being a steal in the second round, a big preseason would backup those claims. With Johnathan Cyprien’s injury, Dane Cruikshank has an opportunity to earn significant snaps at strong safety. He has not particularly stood out in camp, but he will have a chance to make his mark as he should have extended playing time in the preseason. Lastly, Luke Falk is the obvious backup quarterback of the future for the Titans. In previous years, the Titans backup QB situation has been a disaster. This year, they have Blaine Gabbert, who has won games in the NFL. If Falk shines against lesser competition, it will be a positive sign for the future. Tonight’s game will be an early barometer on his progress so far in camp.
- Mike Vrabel and Co.
Let me preface this with, I understand that it is just the preseason. The results on the field are irrelevant to the 2018 season. What we tonight see is how Mike Vrabel and his staff will operate. The staff has been implementing a completely new system for the entire offseason. We will get our first glimpse of it in action tonight. We shouldn’t expect to see anything out of the box on the field, but watch to see if plays get to the field smoothly, the players are disciplined, and hopefully we will not see the dreaded run-run-pass play sequence that we saw so much of last season.
There are only so many things you can take from the first preseason game, but there are things to look for. Tonight is one of the first steps in a long season for the Titans, but the important thing is that football is officially back.