NASHVILLE – The Titans face the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday at Nissan Stadium.
Here's a look at six things to watch:
A.J. Brown + Julio Jones
Titans receiver Julio Jones is coming off his best day as a Titan, and he's ready to pick up where he left off. But the hunch here is that Titans receiver A.J. Brown gets back on track on Sunday against the Colts. Brown admittedly struggled against the Seahawks, as he failed to haul in a number of catchable balls. He's due for a bounce-back performance. In a Week 12 win at Indianapolis last November, Brown caught four passes for 98 yards, including a 69-yard catch for a touchdown. The Titans need for Jones and Brown, who flashed in the opener, to excel together, and give this team a 1-2 punch against Indianapolis.
Titans running back Derrick Henry was a workhorse last Sunday in Seattle, carrying the ball a career-high 35 times for 182 yards and three touchdowns. Now he's ready to dive into AFC South play, which has proven to be a good thing. In 30 career games against the Colts, Jaguars and Texans, Henry has racked up 2,912 yards and 27 touchdowns, rushing for an average of 97.1 yards per game. He'll put a streak of five straight 100-yard games against divisional foes on the line on Sunday. A physical Colts defense, led by linebacker Darius Leonard, will gear up to stop him.
Colts QB Situation
With Colts quarterback Carson Wentz sidelined during practices this week with a pair of ankle injuries, there's some level of mystery surrounding what Indianapolis might do on Sunday. While Jacob Eason finished Indy's game last week, another Colts quarterback has entered the conversation this week – Brett Hundley, who is currently on the team's practice squad. A fifth-round pick in 2015, Hundley has some experience – he started nine games for Green Bay in 2017 while throwing for 1,836 yards, nine touchdowns and 12 interceptions. That's a lot more than Eason, a rookie who has completed just 2-of-5 passes for 27 yards in his career. The Titans are preparing for all possibilities, and will be eyeing Wentz's status on Friday's Injury Report.
Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan has practiced all week, and he's on track to return to action against the Colts after missing last Sunday. Left guard Rodger Saffold has been limited, but he's proven to be a gamer. The rest of the group is also prepping for a challenge on Sunday. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been sacked nine times over the first two games of the season, which is way too many times. The Titans will face a Colts team with some talent up front, from defensive linemen DeForest Buckner and Al-Quadin Muhammad to edge rusher Kwity Paye and others. The Titans need to jell together and protect the QB.
Titans head coach Mike Vrabel is preaching turnovers, in large part because they've been tough to come by for his team so far. In the first two games, the Titans have a takeaway/giveaway margin of minus-3, with one takeaway and four giveaways. The Colts are dead even in this category, with three each way. The Titans have momentum heading into this game. The last thing they want to do is make it any easier for the Colts, who have displayed a knack for coming up with critical plays against the Titans in past games. It's something the home team would like to stop, while forcing turnovers, and making plays of their own.
It's going to be a special day at Nissan Stadium on Sunday, as Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk will lead the franchise in posthumously adding former Oilers head coach O.A. "Bum" Phillips to the Oilers/Titans Ring of Honor during halftime of Sunday's game. Roughly 80 former Oilers are scheduled to attend, including Billy "White Shoes" Johnson, Robert Brazile, Elvin Bethea, Curley Culp, Warren Moon, and Tony Banfield. It should be a cool ceremony, and day.