NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Here's a look at six things standing out for Titans at the end of the preseason:
Weapons ready to roll**
The bad news is running back DeMarco Murray and receivers Eric Decker and Corey Davis were slowed in August with injuries. The good news is they'll be ready for the start of the regular season, which is what matters most. The Titans were careful with three of their top weapons in camp, but all three seem to be reaching a good place at just the right time. A full week of practice next week will have them primed for the opener against the Raiders.
Mariota's positive steps
Back in December, it was impossible to know where Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota would be in his recovery from the fractured fibula he suffered in Jacksonville. But Mariota took part in all 10 OTAs, the minicamp, and he played in the preseason. Mariota completed 62.5 percent of his passes in three preseason games, with a 110.0 rating. He looked good running, displaying some explosiveness after planting the foot, and he took some big steps while settling in and getting comfortable again in the pocket.
Others players emerged**
With Decker and Davis sidelined, rookie Taywan Taylor benefitted from the extra reps in training camp and in preseason games. Taylor led the team with 145 receiving yards, and he gained confidence along the way. I don't know the fate of receiver Tre McBride, but there's no doubt he also took advantage of the extra work as well, and got better. At running back, Derrick Henry and David Fluellen also looked good with extra carries, and it should help them moving forward.
The Titans, along with every other team across the NFL, must be down to 53 players by 3 p.m. on Saturday. As of Friday morning, the number stood at 87 players. Some of the players have already started finding out the news everyone dreads delivering. The full list of cuts won't be made available until tomorrow, but I'm certain some players on the list will end up finding work elsewhere. It speaks to the depth and upgraded personnel under GM Jon Robinson and Co.
Rookies looking good**
I expect Davis to make a big impact this fall. I also mentioned Taylor earlier -- I've been impressed with him since rookie camp. But several other draft picks have really impressed me during the course of the preseason, and I think they'll help this fall. Linebacker Jayon Brown looks like a special player, with good speed and instincts. Adoree' Jackson is going to be a playmaker in the return game, and I think he'll settle down and help on defense. Jonnu Smith keeps improving. These rookies are going to help.
The preseason matters, but…
I don't get caught up in preseason records. I never have. I still remember the Lions going 4-0 in the preseason in 2008, and then finishing with a record of 0-16. This year, the Titans finished 1-3, which isn't great. But keep in mind the defending Super Bowl champs, the Patriots, finished 1-3. The Raiders, another top AFC squad, went 0-4. So did the Falcons, who will be an NFC contender once again. When the regular season starts, preseason wins -- and losses -- don't count.
The Tennessee Titans take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 4 of the preseason on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017 at Arrowhead Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones Photography, AP)