NASHVILLE, Tenn. –** The Titans face the Oakland Raiders in the regular season opener on Sunday at Nissan Stadium:
Here's a look at six things to watch:
Yes, the guys behind center are always the ones to watch. But that's especially true this week when Marcus Mariota and Derek Carr take the field. Mariota's road to recovery from the fractured fibula he suffered on December 24 has been a long one. But the Titans quarterback is back, and so is Carr, who broke his leg on Christmas Eve himself. With plenty of playmakers around them, the focus will be on distributing the football without turning it over.
Welcome to the NFL, rookie. Ideally, the Titans first-round pick would've had a chance to get his feet wet in the preseason. But that didn't happen, thanks to a hamstring injury. Davis will instead make his NFL debut against the Raiders. Davis says he's ready, and the coaches have liked what they've seen from the fifth overall pick. He won't play every snap, but he'll play. In practices, he's looked like a difference maker.
Titans secondary vs Raiders weapons
The Raiders have proven playmakers, from receivers Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree and Seth Roberts to tight end Jared Cook. The Titans enter this one with potential, but also question marks. Veteran cornerback Logan Ryan, safety Johnathan Cyprien and Brice McCain bring experience to the secondary, but at cornerback LeShaun Sims has been ruled out after missing practices all week. Rookie Adoree' Jackson will play plenty, according to coach Mike Mularkey. How will he fare? I'm expecting a big year from safety Kevin Byard, so keep an eye on him.
DeMarco Murray is back at full speed, and he's looked good in recent weeks after dealing with a hamstring injury in August. Meanwhile, Titans running back Derrick Henry has made the most of his opportunities, and is ready to take on more work. Mularkey has said the plan is for Murray to be the workhorse again this season. But what will the division of carries look like at the start? Stay tuned.
There's been a lot of chatter about Tennessee's upgraded receiving corps, and for good reason. In addition to Davis, veteran Eric Decker and rookie Taywan Taylor join a group that already included veteran Rishard Mathews, the team's leader in receiving yards a year ago. But don't forget about Walker, who tied for the team lead in catches. Walker is 10 pounds lighter than he was a year ago, and he should benefit from having extra weapons around him.
The Titans put a great emphasis on upgrading their special teams during the offseason, and some new faces will look to change the game on Sunday. Watch former Raiders linebacker Daren Bates and safety Brynden Trawick sprint down the field on kickoff coverage. Mularkey indicated Jackson would be involved in the return game, so he'll make things exciting as well. Titans kicker Ryan Succop and punter Brett Kern should play key roles as well.
TitansOnline.com looks back at the all-time series against the Oakland Raiders. (AP Photos)