Six Hot Topics from Mike Mularkey's Press Conference

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Titans coach Mike Mularkey met with reporters on Sunday at Saint Thomas Sports Park, one day after the team's 26-16 preseason loss to the Panthers.

Here's a look at six hot topics:

**

Offensive line not set yet**

The Titans used the same starting five on the offensive line against the Panthers – tackles Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin, guards Chance Warmack and Quinton Spain, and center Ben Jones.

But Mularkey said he's still evaluating the group.

"There's still competition there,'' Mularkey said. "There's things we have to get better at. We're not going to declare that the starting five for Minnesota by any means."

Mularkey said Spain "played average."

"He did some good things, and did some things he could be better at,'' Mularkey said of Spain.

Brian Schwenke has played well in his work with the first-team line the last two weeks, and Mularkey said the team plans to give rookie Sebastian Tretola some reps at guard as well, possibly with the ones.

Mularkey said Conklin got tested inside, and is still learning. He said offensive lineman Dennis Kelly was mostly solid after just joining the team last week following the trade with Philadelphia.

**

Injury update**

The plan is for linebacker Kevin Dodd (foot) to be more involved in the team segments in practices this week, and Mularkey expects him to make his preseason debut against the Raiders on Saturday.

Linebacker Aaron Wallace is also expected to play this week after being sidelined with an ankle injury.

Cornerback Jason McCourty (hip flexor) should practice tomorrow, and receiver Kendall Wright (hamstring) could return to practice mid-week, Mularkey said.

Matthews praise

Rookie receiver Tajae Sharpe has earned plenty of media attention with his play, and Mularkey complimented him again on Sunday.

Mularkey also praised veteran receiver Rishard Matthews, who has three catches for 38 yards the first two weeks of the preseason.

"I am really happy with Rishard,'' Mularkey said. "The last week in practice, his route-running. He ran some really good routes yesterday. … His blocking has been very good. Everybody always talks about the receiving end of things, but his blocking has been very good as well."

**

What about Hunter?**

Receiver Justin Hunter told reporters last week the trade of receiver Dorial Green-Beckham got his attention, and has him on high alert.

"I think he has responded since the trade,'' Mularkey said of Hunter. "I think he is studying more."

Hunter made four catches for 54 yards against the Panthers, but he was unable to get his feet inbounds on a sideline play and Mularkey said "there's still things in that game' he needed to do better.

"He fell down on a route,'' Mularkey said. "Those types of things – the two-point play (to him) wasn't a great throw but you would like to see him come down with it or somehow make that play happen. But he did some good things in the game. He caught the ball over the middle.

"He is trying. He knows where his status is, and he knows there's a lot of demands on him."

**

QB buzz**

Marcus Mariota has completed 14-of-15 passes for 149 yards in the preseason, and has a passer rating of 102.5.

"He has done a lot of good things,'' Mularkey said. "He has very good command of what's been going on."

Matt Cassel, meanwhile, has completed 8-of-12 passes for 93 yards.

Mularkey said quarterback Alex Tanney has been impressive as well. Tanney has completed 18-of-27 passes for 170 yards, with a passer rating of 96.2.

"It is rare when you come into a camp and you have three guys who can put an offense into the right sets, the right protections,'' Mularkey said. "(Alex) has been very steady in his improvement. Nothing really flusters him. He has been very smooth with how he operates and he has been that way since he's been here."

**

Game review**

Mularkey watched film of Saturday's game, and said he came away mostly pleased with what he saw.

"I liked offensively, we had some drives against a very good defense,'' Mularkey said. "We went no-huddle, and scored on the no-huddle. The run game – that's a tough team to run the ball against – and I know we didn't rush for (288 yards like vs. San Diego) but we rushed for a four-yard average and that to me is good."

Mularkey said he thought the protection improved from Week 1. The Titans allowed just two sacks against the Panthers. Mularkey said the Titans missed tackles, however, and need to clean some things up on both sides of the football.

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was in the game for four series, and the Panthers scored 10 points. In two of those four series, the Titans forced a three-and-out.

"I thought our mental errors had a drop off,'' Mularkey said. "Defensively, we had a couple of mistakes. We had two plays that went for 100 yards, and two plays that led to scores… Other than that, against a team that likes to run the football. (They) had eight rushes for 19 yards in the first half – that's stopping the run. They had (53) yards total for the whole game – that's what we have to do. … It was a physical game for a preseason game."

Mularkey said the starters should play more this week against the Raiders than they did against the Chargers and Panthers.

The Tennessee Titans battle the Carolina Panthers in Week 2 of the 2016 preseason at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)

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