NASHVILLE, Tenn.— The preseason is all about working out the kinks, and the Titans are in the process.
One game is on the books. On Sunday, the Titans will face the Rams in preseason game No.2. After that, the Chiefs and Vikings are on the horizon before the regular season opener against the Buccaneers on September 12.
Here's a look at five things to watch against the Rams:
The rookie quarterback got off to a wobbly start in the preseason opener in Atlanta, committing two turnovers early. But he settled down and ended the game with a nice drive, and confidence. The Titans want Mariota to take another positive step on his second night out, and that would include a turnover-free game when he makes good decisions. While coaches would love to see him work a two-minute drill, chances are he won't be in the game long enough to give him a chance before halftime. His most extensive playing time in the preseason will come next week in Kansas City.
The Rams approach
Rams coach Jeff Fisher isn't the only former Titans coach returning to town to face his old team. Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is another, and he's hardly known for his passive approach. Williams shouldn't have an axe to grind with the Titans – the team gave him a chance when no one else was willing while coming off a suspension. But that doesn't mean Williams won't try and make things interesting in his return. Will he come after Mariota with blitzes? Will Fisher break out a few trick plays? Stay tuned.
The offensive line**
The Titans need to find their starting five, and the season is drawing closer. Things didn't go so well up front in Atlanta, and as a result the Titans have been experimenting with other players in the starting group. Go ahead and write left tackle Taylor Lewan, right guard Chance Warmack and center Brian Schwenke in with a pen as long as they stay healthy. But use a pencil for the right tackle and left guards spots. Andy Levitre started at left guard last week, but Byron Bell has worked there this week. Jeremiah Poutasi and Jamon Meredith, meanwhile, have worked at right tackle in practices. The Titans plan to give players a chance to win jobs.
Bishop Sankey was underwhelming in the preseason opener, managing just 15 yards on eight carries. But he shouldn't shoulder all the blame – the offensive line wouldn't be getting a shake-up if the group had been dominant. Sankey will get more chances against the Rams, and needs to perform well to show he deserves early carries moving forward. Rookie David Cobb should get some carries early as well, and if he performs well again he has a chance to earn early playing time moving forward. Backs Antonio Andrews and Dexter McCluster aim to keep their positive momentum going as well.
There was a lot of grumbling from fans about the 10-play, 91-yard drive the Falcons put together on the Titans' first-team defense during the week. No one wants to hear the "it's just the preseason" line, especially after the Titans had issues during the regular season a year ago after an unimpressive preseason. Defenders this week said they want to tackle better and play with more of an edge out of the gate against the Rams. A good performance from the first-team defense could quash some of the talk on the outside, while also giving the unit confidence.