Four Things to Watch During Titans at Seahawks Game


The Titans begin a four-game preseason slate in Seattle. Here are four things to watch in today's contest:

QB CONTESTS: Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker have been in open and friendly competition for the Titans' starting job for 2012. Hasselbeck started all 16 games in 2011 and threw for 3,571 yards, becoming the second player in Titans/Oilers franchise history to pass for more than 3,500 yards. The other player was Hall of Famer Warren Moon, who played collegiately at Washington, then for the Houston Oilers (1984-93), and later for the Seahawks (1997-98). Hasselbeck will start, Locker will replace him and play a similar number of snaps, and Moon will be working as a television analyst for Seattle.

Seattle is also evaluating quarterbacks Matt Flynn, an offseason signee, Tavaris Jackson (who started 14 of 15 games in 2011) and 2012 third-round draft pick Russell Wilson.

QUICK GLIMPSE: Chris Johnson had 36 carries for 134 yards in his only regular-season game at Seattle to cap his 2,006-yard season in 2009. Johnson will have a much lighter load in the 2012 preseason opener that will be a balance between getting some quality reps to prepare for a dynamic season in which he plans to gain more than 1,000 yards for the fifth straight season.

The Seahawks also feature a marquee running back in Marshawn Lynch, who rushed for 1,204 yards (seventh-best in the NFL) and 12 TDs in 2011. Like Johnson, Lynch is likely to be used sparingly.

Johnson and Lynch are likely to have a couple of carries early, then shed their helmets and watch from the sidelines.

ROOKIE DEBUTS: Receiver Kendall Wright, the Titans' first-round pick of 2012, will make his live-game debut with other rookies. Wright has shown big-play potential during offseason workouts and camp. The Titans are likely to keep the offense very simple, which might amplify individual's skillsets. Wright will be joined on offense by Taylor Thompson, who is transitioning from the defensive end position he played in college at SMU to tight end.

The Titans drafted five defensive players in 2012. Zach Brown (second round), Mike Martin (third round), Coty Sensabaugh (fourth round) and Scott Solomon (seventh round) will make their debuts. Markelle Martin, the Titans' sixth-round selection, is currently on the physically unable to perform list while recovering from injury.

WHAT A RUSH: The Titans placed significant emphasis on rushing opposing passers this offseason. Tennessee wants to get to quarterbacks more often than in 2011 when the Titans recorded 28 sacks. Free-agent signee Kamerion Wimbley, who has 42.5 sacks in six NFL seasons, the hiring of pass rush specialist Keith Millard, the development of second-year linebacker Akeem Ayers (who is likely to rush the passer at times this season) and solid competition on the defensive line are expected to help.

The Titans won't reveal too much of second-year defensive coordinator Jerry Gray's scheme, but the bursts and individual battles will be worth watching at the front of the play and on the back end when the Titans' secondary matches up with Seahawks receivers.

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