Titans Hope to Identify Starting Five up Front Soon

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Titans were bigger -- and better -- on the offensive line in Sunday night's preseason game against the Rams.

With another solid performance on Friday night at Kansas City, the Titans' starting five that currently includes Byron Bell at left guard and rookie Jeremiah Poutasi at right tackle could be set for the regular season opener.

"We are still looking for the best combination,'' coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "Could this be it? I don't know. It could be it. But we're going to continue to look at these guys and hopefully it will continue."

A week after Andy Levitre started at left guard, Bell slid in there alongside left tackle Taylor Lewan against the Rams. Bell posted a passing grade, per Pro Football Focus, on a night when running back Bishop Sankey had success, and quarterback Marcus Mariota wasn't sacked.

It was Bell's first start at guard since the 2012 season with the Panthers. Bell, a five-year veteran, has started 56 games in his career, 55 at tackle.

"I thought I did some good things,'' Bell said. "A couple of plays I could have been better, but I felt good in there playing guard for the first time. Practicing all week, it got me prepared. And I felt comfortable.'

Poutasi, a third-round pick out of Utah, didn't grade out as well, per PFF. But he felt he made improvement, and indications are he did enough to earn another start in Kansas City. Whisenhunt said earlier this week he planned to keep the same starting five in place for preseason game No.3.

Bell started at right tackle in Week One of the preseason. Brian Schwenke is the team's starting center, Chance Warmack is secure as the team's starting right guard. Lewan has been dominant at left tackle in practices in his second NFL season.

The Titans hope Poutasi, who just turned 21 earlier this month, will settle in.

"I always get nervous, but my nerves kind of went to a whole new level (on Sunday night),'' Poutasi said. "But I felt I was pretty patient with my hands. I felt like I played a decent game. A lot to improve on, but for my first start, I think I did decent.

"My goal is to take one step forward and keep my physical style consistent and just play fast."

The Titans have one more preseason game – on September 3 vs the Vikings – before the regular season opener at Tampa Bay on September 13.

Whisenhunt would like to have his starting group set soon.

Sturdy guys like Bell and Poutasi have a chance to make a big impression on Friday night.

"Is bigger always better?,'' Whisenhunt said.  "To me it's all about how that unit works together and the effectiveness of it. I think the most important thing (against the Rams) that I saw from our team was we were very physical starting out. It was a physical football game, but there was a good intensity with it. Our guys came off the ball on the offensive line and did some good things. There were certainly some holes that were opened up early and our backs did a nice job of hitting them. I said last week and I stay with it, we are looking for the best combination."

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