NASHVILLE, Tenn. – With the preseason in the books, the focus of the Tennessee Titans immediately shifts to their regular season opener on Sunday, Sept. 7 at Kansas City.
The Titans finished the preseason with a 2-2 record and plenty to feel good about going into Week 1.
Tennessee's starters sat in last night's preseason finale, giving more chances for rookies Zach Mettenberger and Bishop Sankey, along with second-year receiver Justin Hunter.
The Mett Show**
Mettenberger received the start and the rookie QB continued to show flashes of his potential, completing 12-of-17 passes for 154 yards. He was also sacked three times, with one leading to a lost fumble.
Mettenberger finished the preseason as the NFL's leader in passing yards with 659.
"There's no question that he has improved over the course of the preseason just in managing the huddle and managing the line of scrimmage," head coach Ken Whisenhunt said of his rookie QB. "We are able to do a lot of different things with him. I wish we would have had a little more success on that two-minute drive because he has done well with those … I have been pleased with his development."
Justin Hunter Doing Justin Hunter Things
Hunter played for three series and delivered the play of the game came on Tennessee's first offensive drive. On the fourth play from scrimmage, Mettenberger sent a deep ball down the right sideline that Hunter went down and snagged from his shoelaces for a 34-yard gain.
It's those kinds of plays that Hunter has made look ordinary throughout the preseason. Hunter's two catches for 53 yards on Thursday gave him 217 for the preseason, good enough for second in the league. Those 217 yards include four catches of 20-plus yards and one catch of 40-plus yards.
Hunter is my preseason MVP.
Bishop Sankey Running Wild**
Sankey took another big step forward against the Vikings. His playing time was brief – only two series – but he finished with 43 yards on seven carries.
His finest run came on the Titans' first possession when he shook two would-be tacklers at the line of scrimmage on his way to 11 tough yards. Sankey's long run of 13 yards came on the following drive.
The Titans rookie running back displayed his combination of vision and power that made him the first back taken in this year's draft.
The biggest stat of the day for him – zero fumbles.
Review of the 5 Things to Watch
1. More Mettenberger
There isn't much not to feel good about in terms of Mettenberger's preseason.
2. Teddy Ballgame
Teddy Bridgewater started and played two drives, leading the Vikings to 10 points on the scoreboard. He finished 4-of-9 passing for a modest 17 yards and one touchdown. The Vikings have to like what they've seen in their rookie second-string QB if anything were to happen to starter Matt Cassel.
3. Tim Shaw
Tim Shaw got the season started right as the team's first 12th Titan of the year. He ran out of the tunnel to begin the game, then took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge again in the second quarter.
Shaw said it's been a whirlwind week and a half since announcing to the world he has ALS, but remained as confident as ever that a cure is on the way.
I said it last night and I'll say it again today, Shaw's strength is truly an inspiration.
- Bonani vs. Coons**
Maikon Bonani made one out of his two field goal attempts (good from 29, missed from 32). Bonani also had two kickoffs that were both touchbacks. Because of the offensive struggles, Travis Coons didn't see any action.
5. Competitions Conclude
With no more preseason games left to be played, those fighting for roster spots have no choice but to let the chips fall where they may. Some roster cuts may come today, with the NFL's deadline set for Saturday at 3 p.m., CT to get down to the league-mandated 53 player limit.
Quote of the Day
"We feel like we've made a lot of progress. I think it is going to be an interesting next step against Kansas City, live game action, but with a chance to game plan them. I feel good about our football team." – Ken Whisenhunt on moving forward to the regular season.