Tomorrow night in Philly, Titans football will *officially* be back. As the Tennessee Titans will take on the Philadelphia Eagles in a contest that brings plenty story lines from both teams.
But, we’re going to focus on one side today, the visiting side.
The Titans carry some interesting things to watch for as they play their first “competitive” football game since the heartbreaking December 31st loss against the Colts.
Some key offensive contributors are back and healthy, ready to improve on an offense that was ranked 27th in football last season.
The defense remains mostly the same, but with some young talent trying to make a name for their self as their roles expand.
We do know Derrick Henry and AJ Brown won’t play. In fact they didn’t even travel with the team.
So much I could get into that would take up your time, but lucky for you, I have what you need to watch for right down below.
Only 5 topics too.
Don’t be a stranger.
1. Marcus Mariota…yes just Mariota
Sorry for the expected cliche, but this is is just far too important. Marcus Mariota returns to game action for the first time since week 16 of last season, but with a new offensive coordinator and some new toys on the outside.
Mariota is looking to get through a season healthy for the first time in his career. While seemingly trying to improve on numbers from the last couple of years that’d make any offensive football loving fan become nauseous.
He’ll get his first opportunity to shine tomorrow night, against an Eagles defense he carved up last season. Even doing it basically with 3 functioning fingers on his throwing hand.
It’a only the first pre season game of course, but it’s no fun to not draw some observations from the QB1.
Mariota is now healthy and ready to go for a season that could make or break his future in Tennessee.
2. New Names on The Outside, One Weapon Returns
When Corey Davis is constantly double teamed and the WR opposite of him can’t get going, you know there’s going to be some change.
That change included bringing in slot WR Adam Humphries, by way of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. You should know plenty about Humphries by now.
The quick WR has been hard to not notice in camp and looks primed to be one of Mariota’s safety blankets this upcoming season.
— TURRON DAVENPORT (@TDavenport_NFL) July 27, 2019
Another new weapon is on the outside as well, but hasn’t had the the fortune of actually being on the field much.
AJ Brown was drafted in the 2nd round by the Titans, but has been hampered by a hamstring injury he sustained during the first day of training camp on July 26th.
He hasn’t practiced since.
— AtoZSports Nashville (@AtoZSports) July 26, 2019
He won’t play tomorrow, but I believe he’ll be fine for the regular season opener.
One weapon that does return is Delanie Walker. After losing his 2018 season due to a gruesome leg injury, Walker has been running around and looking like nothing even happened.
He won’t get much run in the first pre season game, but it should be a good sight to see #82 in two tone blue back out on the field.
3. How Will The Offensive Line Combinations Shake Out?
The Titans’ offensive line will look a little different for the first 4 games of the 2019 season. Taylor Lewan, a 3 time Pro Bowler, was smacked with a 4 game suspension for violating the performance enhancing drug policy.
With such a huge hole at LT for the first 4 games, the Titans will turn to Dennis Kelly to help fill the void. Now Kelly isn’t your average reserve tackle. In fact, there could be some arguments made that he could start at the tackle spot opposite of Lewan.
But with Lewan of course suspended, those arguments will be put to rest for now.
The other question on the offensive line is at RG. The sense is that Kevin Pamphile will get the start there, but in no means is he a guy you’d want to start there. Nate Davis is a 3rd round draft pick the Titans selected in April, but he’s still raw and needs a little bit more polish.
Corey Levin is a large dark horse for the spot as well, but I highly doubt he’ll get some sort of start at RG when the Titans hit the road to Cleveland for week 1.
4. Some UDFA’s Who Have A Nice Shot At Receiving A Roster Spot
Every training camp, you’re going to be on the lookout for the main names and contributors that bring the most eyes. But in some cases, you’ll end up finding some guys that aren’t as well known, but do all the right things to somehow get on the roster.
That’s exactly what Kalif Raymond and Derek Roberson have are on this Titans roster.
Raymond has bounced around the league since his arrival in 2016. From starting out with the Denver Broncos, then to the New York Giants and New York Jets.
Finally though, Raymond might’ve found a home here in Tennessee.
Raymond is a quick, twitchy WR who came out of Holy Cross. He’s done nothing but work, and as a result, looks to be on the inside looking out for a potential roster spot through the first 2 weeks of camp.
With Cameron Batson going down with an injury, Raymond has found a golden opportunity to make plays. Play that has gotten him some first team reps during camp.
Kalif Raymond had a great last week of practice.
He talks about how he can get it going on the field next week in Philly and how his recent practice play can help secure a role. pic.twitter.com/LUpUaHRwea
— TreJean Watkins (@TreWatkins099) August 4, 2019
But now its the real deal, where a lot of roster bubble guys can separate themselves.
Instead of just doing it on the practice field against your teammates, do it in game.
Raymond will get his opportunities, it’s just all about capitalizing on them.
The same thing can be said for the ex-Sam Houston State product, Derek Roberson. Roberson hasn’t turned as many heads as Raymond in camp, but he also is in a nice spot to get a roster spot.
He might be below the top guys of Harold Landry, Cameron Wake, and Sharif Finch in the pecking order. But his eye popping production in college sure seems to get the Titans to take a bet on him as well.
Watch out for these 2 guys in Philly tomorrow night.
5. How Will The Defense Look After Statistical Excellence in 2018?
The defense of the Tennessee Titans in 2018 was in short words, excellent. Some was made on the defense being ranked 8th in the league in YPG, giving up 333.4 YPG.
But boy let me tell you, while the Titans seemed to be stingy giving up yards, they were eve stingier giving up points.
How stingy you say? The Titans only gave up 18.6 POINTS a game.
In a league where flashy aerial attack offenses are the name of the game, giving up only 18 points is pretty damn impressive.
Now the defense has new faces taking on larger roles. The likes of Harold Landry and Rashaan Evans look to take over starting roles on defense. Landry for the most part will try to improve a Titans pass rush that hasn’t been great nor bad the last couple of seasons.
Evans will take over the starting spot last held by Wesley Woodyard. Evans will be counted on to be the rangy MLB that so many defenses covet to counter the modernized passing offenses many teams look to have.
Evans also has added value as a pass rusher, so if you see him lining up on the edge, don’t be surprised.
There you have it.
All in 5 topics. Again, there’s so much more I could get into, but I won’t take up too much of your time.
You can catch the Titans taking on the Eagles on middle Tennessee ABC affiliate WKRN or through NFL Gamepass.
Get a free trial here.