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Six Things to Watch in Regular Season Opener


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Titans face the Vikings on Sunday at Nissan Stadium.  
Here's a look at six things to watch:

Mariota's start

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota completed 86.7 percent of his passes while throwing four touchdowns in last year's season opener at Tampa Bay. His passer rating was a perfect 158.3. Yes, it's a tough act to follow, and things won't be easy against a Minnesota defense many believe could be one of the best in the NFL this season. Mariota looked good in the preseason after a productive offseason.
Defending A.P.

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson led the NFL in rushing (1,485 yards) last season, and is considered the league's best back. The Vikings will lean on him this season, especially with a new quarterback after losing Teddy Bridgewater to a season-ending injury. The Titans must find a way to slow him down, and keep him from busting off big runs. Gang tackling, and sure tacking in the open field, is key.

1-2 punch

Titans coach Mike Mularkey made it clear again this week that DeMarco Murray is the team's lead back, and after Murray rushed for 8.1 yards per carry in the preseason, he sure looks ready to carry the load. Rookie Derrick Henry probably earned some carries with a dominant preseason himself, however. So what will the split look like? And will the Murray-Henry tandem have success?
The coordinators

The Titans have a pair of veteran coordinators – OC Terry Robiskie, and DC Dick LeBeau. These guys are not strangers to call sheets. But it's been a while since Robiskie called plays in a games, so it will be interesting to see his approach, and how he sets up plays. LeBeau didn't call plays last season for the Titans, but it's his show now. How aggressive will he be?

Tajae and the WRs

Titans rookie receiver Tajae Sharpe has passed every test this season, from training camp to preseason games. On Sunday, he'll play in his first regular season game. He's part of a new-look receiving corps for the Titans, who will also start newcomer Rishard Matthews. Andre Johnson will also be playing his first regular season game with Mariota. Chemistry will be key. Mariota looked to be on the same page as the receivers during the preseason.
The offensive line**

The Titans decided on their starting five late in the preseason, and Mularkey said again Friday he's confident in the group, which includes a new right tackle in Jack Conklin, a new center in Ben Jones and a relatively inexperienced left guard in Quinton Spain. The Vikings will test them in the trenches right out of the gate with some big bodies, including Sharrif Floyd, Linval Joseph and Everson Griffen.

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