NASHVILLE, Tenn. –The most electrifying play on Saturday came on a play that didn't count. **
Still, Titans rookie Adoree' Jackson's punt return for a touchdown – which was nullified because of a penalty – left a lasting impression on everyone at Nissan Stadium.
"I know we had penalties on the play, but we haven't had a punt return for a touchdown with penalties since I've been here," Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. "I mean, that I was good to see. You saw that we have the ability to be explosive in that area. We have to clean up things, we can't have that."
Asked of Jackson's won the punt return duties for the season, Mularkey said: "We're still evaluating, but he's certainly a leading candidate."
Jackson, the 18th overall pick in the NFL Draft, has been impressive in camp.
While playing in the defense on Saturday, Jackson made tackles in the open field, and he's already proven he can run with top receivers. In practices against the Panthers this week, Jackson intercepted a pass downfield, and made several break-ups. He's made plays on a consistent basis in Titans practices.
In Tennessee's 34-27 win over the Panthers on Saturday, Jackson turned in the game's most memorable play.
With the Titans leading 10-0, Jackson caught a punt from Panthers punter Michael Palardy at Tennessee's 37-yard line and then proceeded to make his way upfield. Jackson dodged would-be tacklers on the way into the end zone, and crossed the goal-line on an apparent 63-yard punt return for a touchdown.
Only it didn't count.
"That was messed up,'' fellow rookie Jayon Brown told Jackson as he was being interviewed. "It should have been a touchdown."
It wasn't a touchdown, of course. The return was called back because of a pair of penalties -- a holding penalty on tight end Phillip Supernaw, and a block above the waist on cornerback Logan Ryan. The penalty on Ryan was enforced, and the touchdown was wiped off the books.
"Everybody was excited,'' Jackson said. "I didn't know (about the penalties) until I turned around."
Still, Jackson got a thrill. He was swarmed by his teammates, and cheered by the crowd.
He hopes to do it again in the regular season, when it counts.
Jackson's done it before. During his three-year stint at Southern California, Jackson scored 15 total touchdowns in four different ways: via reception (6), interception (1), punt return (4) and kickoff return (4).
Jackson tied two NCAA records with eight career touchdowns on kick returns and nine touchdowns on all runbacks. He also owns Southern California career records with 2,141 kickoff return yards and 79 kickoff returns.
"I wasn't disappointed at all," Jackson said. "Those guys did a great job blocking, and they work their tails off to give me an opportunity. We did a good enough job to get into the end zone. Next time we're out there we need to make sure we get the same result and have it end with a touchdown.
"Whenever the opportunity presents itself in the future I want to make sure I do the things I know I am capable of doing."
The Tennessee Titans take on the Carolina Panthers in Week 2 of the preseason on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017 at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones Photography, AP)