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Game Preview: Titans Begin Preseason at Atlanta


The Tennessee Titans (0-0) launch their preseason schedule this week as they travel to Atlanta to face the Falcons (0-0). Kickoff at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (capacity 71,000) is scheduled for 7 p.m. EDT/6 p.m. CDT on Friday, Aug. 13.

The game will be televised regionally on the Titans Preseason TV Network, including flagship WKRN-News 2 in Nashville. Play-by-play announcer Dan Hellie and analyst Charles Davis will call the action, and Cory Curtis will report from the sidelines.

Fans in the Nashville television market can livestream the broadcast on their mobile devices from the Titans Mobile App (iOS and Android), as well as on desktop computers and mobile web at Restrictions apply. For more information on streaming options

The Titans Radio Network and Nashville flagship 104.5 The Zone will carry the game across the Mid-South with the "Voice of the Titans" Mike Keith, analyst Dave McGinnis, sideline reporter Amie Wells and gameday host Rhett Bryan.

As the Titans begin a busy three-week preseason stretch, head coach Mike Vrabel and executive vice president/general manager Jon Robinson will get their first evaluation of the current Titans squad against opposing colors. Eight draft picks are among the 40-plus newcomers on the 90-man roster, as is wide receiver Julio Jones, who was acquired from Atlanta in a trade. Free agent signees like outside linebacker Bud Dupree, defensive lineman Denico Autry, wide receiver Josh Reynolds and cornerback Jackrabbit Jenkins also join a returning nucleus that helped the Titans go 11-5 during the 2020 regular season and claim their first division title in 12 years.

The group of carryovers on offense includes four Pro Bowl players: quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who set a franchise record in 2020 with 40 combined passing and rushing touchdowns; 2,000-yard running back, 2020 NFL Offensive Player of the Year and two-time NFL rushing champion Derrick Henry; wideout A.J. Brown, who reached the 1,000-yard receiving mark in each of his first two seasons; and left tackle Taylor Lewan, returning to action after finishing 2020 on injured reserve.

On defense, Pro Bowl safety Kevin Byard is among the veteran leaders set to return, as is defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons, outside linebacker Harold Landry III and inside linebackers Rashaan Evans and Jayon Brown.

The first preseason game of 2021 also happens to be the first occasion for new members of the Titans and Falcons to face their former clubs. Former Titans assistant Arthur Smith was hired as Atlanta's head coach in January after spending the last 10 seasons in Tennessee. Smith rose through the ranks from quality control coach in 2011 to offensive coordinator from 2019 to 2020. His staff in Atlanta includes former Titans assistants Frank Bush, Chandler Henley, Steve Hoffman, Charles London, Dean Pees, Matt Pees and Dave Ragone.

In June, Titans general manager Jon Robinson engineered a trade for Jones, a seven-time Pro Bowl selection in Atlanta. The Titans sent draft picks in 2022 (second round) and 2023 (conditional fourth round) to the Falcons in exchange for Jones and a 2023 sixth-rounder. In Jones, the Titans acquired the player with the most receiving yards per game in NFL history—95.5—among anyone who has ever played at least 100 games. Jones is Atlanta's all-time leader in receptions (848), receiving yards (12,896) and 100-yard receiving games (58).

Two returning members of Tennessee's coaching staff are scheduled to make their preseason debuts this week as Titans coordinators. The offensive attack is now directed by Todd Downing, whom Vrabel named to the post after Smith exited for Atlanta. Downing initially joined the club as tight ends coach in 2019 and has 20 years of NFL coaching experience.

On the defensive side, Vrabel promoted Shane Bowen to defensive coordinator for 2021 after three seasons as the team's outside linebackers coach. Bowen served as the defensive play-caller for the first time in 2020.

Four days after returning from Atlanta, the Titans will travel early to Tampa Bay for two days of practice with the Buccaneers (Aug. 18-19) before squaring off in an Aug. 21 preseason game. The preseason concludes for the Titans on Aug. 28, when they will host the Chicago Bears at Nissan Stadium. To open the regular season, the Titans will host the Arizona Cardinals on Sept. 12.

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