Six Things That Stood Out

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Six Things That Stood Out for Titans at Cleveland

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CLEVELAND, Ohio —*Here's a look at six things that stood out from Sunday's 28-14 loss to the Browns. *
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Mariota's Toughness: Marcus Mariota reminded me a little bit of Sylvester Stallone in Rocky on Sunday. The rookie quarterback kept getting hit and knocked down, and he kept getting back up, sometimes with help from his teammates. Mariota had his shoe and helmet knocked off on the same play in the first half. At one point on the sideline, a trainer held smelling salt under his nose. Mariota was sacked seven times, and hit 11 times. The kid's a tough cookie, for sure. The Titans would rather not see Rocky II next week, though. 
Shaky protection:Mariota was sacked just twice in the season opener at Tampa Bay, when he was hit just two times. It was a completely different story in Cleveland, though. The Titans had all kinds of trouble protecting Mariota on Sunday. Sure, there were occasions when he held the ball too long, allowing the defense to converge on him. But there were too many times when Cleveland defensive linemen busted through and put big hits on Mariota. Rookie tackle Jeremiah Poutasi put some of the blame on himself, but he wasn't the only culprit. This needs to get cleaned up quickly.

McCluster's Spark:Bishop Sankey had a great Week 1, and Terrance West was expected to have a big Week 2 in Cleveland in his homecoming.  Instead, Dexter McCluster led the way in the run game, rushing for 98 yards on 10 carries (a 9.8-yard average), with a long of 44 yards. McCluster looked like he had a jetpack on his back at times. He busted through the hole, and into the open field on several occasions. McCluster said at the start of the season he wanted to provide a spark on offense, and he did just that on Sunday. 
Mistakes, Mistakes, Mistakes:Nine penalties for 85 yards. Four fumbles, including three that were lost (two by Mariota and one by West). Breakdowns on the offensive line, and on defense. The Titans played a near flawless game in the season opener in Tampa, but they sure looked shaky during stretches against the Browns. In the second half, the Titans settled down and cut back on some of the blunders. But at this point, the team's not good enough where it can afford a bad half and win.  

DGB's presence:Fans have been clamoring for more of rookie receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, and his catch on Sunday will surely generate even more buzz. Green-Bechman went up high to make an impressive fourth quarter catch against the Browns, proving himself to be a dangerous target in the red zone. With his size, he's a matchup problem for defenses, and he was anything but shaky in making his first NFL catch.  He snagged the 13-yard pass from Mariota out of the air without hesitation. He's a guy I'd sure be ready to award with more playing time moving forward. 
Tight end depth:** The Titans missed veteran Delanie Walker. He's just too valuable a presence on the field, as a pass catcher, blocker, and tone setter. But the team showed off its quality depth at the position on Sunday. Anthony Fasano led the way with five catches for 84 yards, including a diving catch on a 19-yard touchdown. Chase Coffman stepped up with some big grabs, and had four catches for 42 yards. Craig Stevens made one of the best catches of the day on a 13-yard grab. On the day, the tight ends combined for 10 catches for 139 yards, more than half of Mariota's yardage total (257) in the game.

The Tennessee Titans take on the Cleveland Browns in Week 2 of the 2015 season at FirstEnergy Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)


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