NASHVILLE, Tenn. –** The Titans open the preseason on Saturday night against the Chargers at Nissan Stadium.
Here's a look at six things to watch…
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota has looked good in training camp. He's noticeably bigger, and his decision-making has been good. Mariota is also getting more comfortable with the weapons around him. Mariota would like to continue developing chemistry with his targets in the preseason. He won't play a bunch against the Chargers, but the appearance gives him a chance to start building momentum.
How many receivers will the Titans keep -- five or six? It's one of the most popular questions I get about the team these days. I consider Kendall Wright, Rishard Matthews, Dorial Green-Beckham and Tajae Sharpe to be four sure things, barring injury. Andre Johnson, Harry Douglas, Justin Hunter and Tre McBride are among those battling for extra spots. Will the team value experience over potential? The preseason will start to provide some answers.
Battle at running back**
Veteran DeMarco Murray isn't expected to play much against the Chargers. The Titans plan to limit his reps in the preseason. Derrick Henry and the team's other backs will instead get the bulk of the work. Murray and Henry are on the team, and Henry's going to be fun to watch. His been impressive in practices, and fans will get even more excited seeing him against other teams. But who will emerge from the group of Antonio Andrews, David Cobb and Bishop Sankey?
Titans coach Mike Mularkey said he plans to let the first-team offensive line get extended playing time on Saturday night. He praised the group's performance in protection after Monday night's scrimmage. The spot to watch this preseason is at left guard, where Quinton Spain has worked with the starters since the offseason. Jeremiah Poutasi, Sebastian Tretola, Brian Schwenke will also get work at the position in the preseason. Can Spain hold them off?
OK, so defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau isn't going to show all his cards in the preseason. He's not going to unleash exotic blitzes and reveal his plan until the regular season begins. But he'd like to see his unit build some momentum in preseason games, which could provide some hints. Along the way, the Titans still need to sort out the cornerback spot opposite Jason McCourty while deciding on some roster spots still up for grabs on defense.
Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt returns to Nissan Stadium on Saturday night. It will be his first trip back since his days as head coach of the Titans. Whisenhunt is certain to keep a low profile, but another former Titan will be on full display – quarterback Zach Mettenberger. The Titans released Mettenberger earlier this offseason, and he returns as the No.2 behind Philip Rivers. He should get plenty of action against his old team.