Game Notes: Titans vs. Chargers



GROUND GAME: The Titans totaled 288 rushing yards on 33 attempts for an average of 8.7 yards per carry.  They were led byDeMarco Murray's93 rushing yards, followed byDerrick Henry(74),Bishop Sankey(52),Antonio Andrews(41),David Fluellen(13),Dexter McCluster(12) andMatt Cassel(3).  The rushing total was the team's highest in a preseason game since Aug. 9, 2008, when Titans rushers accumulated 340 yards.  

THUNDER…: In his preseason debut with the Titans, running backDeMarco Murraytotaled six carries for 93 yards in the first quarter.  His night included a 15-yard gain on the first offensive play of the game and a 71-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter.  It was the Titans' longest run in a preseason game since Sept. 3, 2004, whenChris Brownscampered for 73 yards on a non-touchdown run against the Green Bay Packers.   

…AND THUNDER: Rookie running backDerrick Henryimpressed in his NFL preseason debut against the Chargers.  He rushed for 74 yards on 10 carries (7.4 avg.) in the first half, including a six-yard touchdown run.  Henry, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner from Alabama, was a second-round pick and the 45th overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft.  

MARIOTA RETURNS: On the field for the first time since a season-ending knee injury at New England on Dec. 20, 2016, Titans quarterbackMarcus Mariotacompleted all five of his pass attempts for 45 yards and a passer rating of 104.2.  His first throw of the contest went for 31 yards to rookie wide receiverTajae Sharpe.     

FIRST TWO PLAYS SUCCESSFUL ON MULTIPLE FRONTS: At an offseason benefit for the Make-A-Wish Foundation hosted by former Titans defensive linemanKevin Carter, Titans head coachMike Mularkeyauctioned off the play-calling duties for the first two plays of the opening preseason game.  The auction raised a total of $20,000 for the foundation.  The first call resulted in a 15-yard gain on a pitch play toDeMarco Murray, and the second play was a 31-yard completion fromMarcus MariotatoTajae Sharpe.   

PALMER, WILLIAMSON LEAD IN TACKLES: NewcomerNate Palmer, a fourth-year linebacker claimed off waivers from Green Bay in April, was credited with five tackles against the Chargers.  He tied third-year linebackerAvery Williamsonfor the team lead.  

TWO LINEBACKERS RECORD SACKS: The Titans defense recorded two sacks in the game, both by young outside linebackers.  First-year linebackerJ.R. Tavairecorded an eight-yard sack, and second-year linebackerDeiontrez Mountadded a five-yard sack and forced fumble (recovered by San Diego).    

SANKEY SCORES: In the fourth quarter, third-year running backBishop Sankeycrossed the goal line on a 41-yard touchdown run on his first carry.  He finished the game with 52 yards on three rushing attempts.  
THIRD-ROUND SAFETY NOTCHES INTERCEPTION: In the first preseason game of his NFL career, rookie safetyKevin Byardrecorded an interception.  In the third quarter, he picked offZach Mettenbergeron a pass intended for tight endAsante Cleveland. Byard, the 64th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, notched a school-record 19 total interceptions in four seasons at Middle Tennessee State University.                                                                                                                                                                                           *STAPLES INTERCEPTION: *In the fourth quarter, third-year linebackerJustin Staplesrecorded the team's second interception of the night.  He picked off aMike Bercovicipass and returned the ball 19 yards to set upBishop Sankey'stouchdown run on the next play.  

MULARKEY WINS CHALLENGE: In the third quarter, head coachMike Mularkeywon his first challenge of the preseason.  With the Chargers offense on the field, a pass byZach Mettenbergerto wide receiverDom Williamswas ruled complete for a gain of 15 yards.  However, Mularkey challenged the call, and upon review, it was reversed to an incomplete pass.    

McBRIDE HANDLES RETURNS: Second-year wideoutTre McBridehandled all of the team's punt returns and kickoff returns against the Chargers.  On kickoffs, he averaged 24.0 yards on three returns (long of 35), and on punts, he averaged 5.7 yards on three returns (long of 16).    

EIGHT NEWCOMERS START:Eight players who were added to the roster during the offseason started in the preseason opener: running backsDeMarco MurrayandDerrick Henry; wide receiversTajae Sharpe(rookie) andRishard Matthews; centerBen Jones; rookie right tackleJack Conklin; cornerbackBrice McCain; and safetyRashad Johnson**.

The Tennessee Titans kick off the 2016 preseason against the San Diego Chargers at Nissan Stadium. (Donn Jones, AP)

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