NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Training camp is technically over for the Titans, who now have two preseason games under their belts.
Here's a look at six things standing out for the Titans after Saturday's game vs Buccaneers, as they prepare to face the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday in preseason game No.3:
Jayon Brown hasn't slowed down
Titans second-year linebacker Jayon Brown was one of the stars of the offseason, and he's kept it going in August practices, and in preseason games. Brown recorded an interception in the preseason opener against the Packers, and he was all over the field on Saturday night against the Buccaneers, tallying a team-high seven tackles, a sack, and a tipped ball. He was solid in coverage as well. Brown is fast, and he appears ready to make an even bigger splash in year two.
Taywan Taylor can fly
Speaking of speedsters, yes, we already knew the Titans receiver could fly. Taylor ran an unofficial time of 4.39 in college at Western Kentucky, and we've seen him get up and go in the past. But the burners were on full display on Saturday night, enough to get the attention of NBA star LeBron James. Taylor has the capability of taking the top off of defenses, but he also proved he can catch it and go, and that's going to put a lot of strain on defenses.
A taste of Dion Lewis
And speaking of putting stress on opposing defenses, it was nice to see Lewis do what he did against the Buccaneers. Lewis drove the Titans crazy in last year's playoff game, and his two catches, his elusiveness, and the quick bursts against the Bucs is a sign of things to come. Lewis is a tough guy to corral in the open field, and he catches the ball extremely well. He's going to be fun to watch.
Yes, they've been impossible to ignore. The Titans racked up 11 penalties for 134 yards against the Buccaneers, and they now have 25 penalties for 258 yards in two preseason games. They've come in a lot of ways, including by way of the NFL's lowering the head to initiate contact rule. I'm going to point two things out here: 1. A lot of the penalties have been called against players who won't be on the roster in the fall. 2. The Titans are going to have a hard time winning games if the penalties do keep coming in bunches.
Back-ups having issues
I've seen a few overreaction tweets (and emails) after two preseason games. Let's face it: The preseason can be misleading, from the scores, to what it all means. The reality is the Titans first team offense has played three series, and quarterback Marcus Mariota has thrown two touchdowns. Also, many of the defensive starters played three series in the first quarter vs Tampa Bay, and allowed only a field goal and 89 total yards on those three drives, including a three-and-out on the game's opening series. Looking at the DNP list, I counted a half-dozen starters (offense and defense combined) who didn't play at all. But this can't be ignored either: The Titans have been outscored 27-7 in the fourth quarter of the two preseason contests, and some of the reserves have struggled.
Nick Williams is doing it all
I've written about Titans receiver Nick Williams in this space multiple times in August, and he keeps earning his way back in. Williams continues to make a case for himself to be on the 53-man roster. He had a big catch and run in Green Bay, when he also showed up of coverage teams. He made a nice block on Taylor's 47-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter vs the Bucs. Williams has been available, and he's been dependable, and those are two qualities the decision-makers look for when it comes down to roster decisions.
The Tennessee Titans take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2 of the 2018 preseason on Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018 at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)