NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans (0-0) begin the 2016 preseason this week against the San Diego Chargers (0-0). Kickoff at Nissan Stadium (capacity 69,143) is scheduled for 7 p.m. CDT on Saturday, Aug. 13. The contest is a preview of the two teams' Nov. 6 regular season meeting in San Diego.
The game will be televised regionally on the Titans Preseason TV Network, including flagship WKRN-News 2 in Nashville. Play-by-play announcerDan Hellieand analystCharles Daviswill call the action, andKara Hammerwill report from the sidelines.
The Titans Radio Network, including Nashville flagship 104.5 The Zone, will carry the game across the Mid-South with the "Voice of the Titans"Mike Keith, analystFrank Wycheck, gameday hostRhett Bryanand sideline reporterJonathan Hutton.
NEW ERA OF TITANS FOOTBALL
In taking the field against the Chargers, the Titans will usher in a new era in their history, as head coachMike Mularkeyand general managerJon Robinson embark on their first preseason in their respective roles. Mularkey, who is in his 31st season in the NFL (nine as a player and 22 as a coach), served the final nine games of 2015 as the interim coach before he was named to the job on a full-time basis in January. Robinson spent the last two seasons as director of player personnel for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers following a 12-year stint in the scouting department of the New England Patriots, including five seasons (2009–2013) as their director of college scouting.
In the six months since Mularkey and Robinson were hired, the makeup of the team has undergone significant turnover. Currently, 36 of the 90 players on the active roster and physically unable to perform list (40 percent) were not on it in 2015.
One of the biggest names scheduled to don the two-tone blue for the first time this week is running back DeMarco Murray. The two-time Pro Bowl selection and 2014 NFL Offensive Player of the Year was brought to Tennessee in March in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles. In the last five seasons, Murray ranks sixth in the NFL in rushing yards (5,228), fifth in avg./rush (4.6), sixth in scrimmage yards (6,750) and seventh in rushing touchdowns (34).
The Titans added several more veterans early in free agency, including cornerback Brice McCain (formerly of the Miami Dolphins), safety Rashad Johnson (Arizona Cardinals), center Ben Jones (Houston Texans) and wide receiver Rishard Matthews (Dolphins). Then, on July 29, the day the Titans reported to training camp, the Titans added wide receiver Andre Johnson. A seven-time Pro Bowl selection, Johnson ranks eighth in NFL history in receptions (1,053) and ninth in league annals in receiving yards (14,100).
The Titans selected 10 players in the 2016 NFL Draft, headlined by Michigan State tackle Jack Conklin, the eighth-overall pick. They selected three second-rounders: Clemson outside linebacker Kevin Dodd (33rd overall), Penn State defensive lineman Austin Johnson (43rd) and Alabama running back Derrick Henry (45th). In selecting Henry a year after landing quarterback Marcus Mariota, the Titans got the reigning Heisman Trophy winner for the second consecutive year.
Mariota, the second-overall draft choice a year ago, set Titans rookie passing marks for attempts (370), yards (2,818), completions (230), touchdowns (19) and passer rating (91.5). Only Steve McNair in his MVP season of 2003 (100.4 passer rating) and Hall of Famer Warren Moon in 1990 (96.8) finished with a better passer rating in a Titans/Oilers season than Mariota did in 2015. His 62.2 completion percentage not only set the franchise rookie record but also qualified as the fifth-highest rookie percentage in NFL history. *
The Chargers enter their fourth season under head coachMike McCoy, who led his team to back-to-back 9-7 finishes in his first two seasons, including a playoff berth in 2013. Like the Titans, the Chargers are looking to take a big leap forward in 2016 after finishing 4-12 in 2015.
Chargers quarterback and Decatur, Ala., nativePhilip Rivers is beginning his 13th NFL campaign, all of which have been in San Diego. The 6-foot-5, 228-pound signal caller set team records in 2015 with 661 attempts and 437 completions while passing for 4,792 yards, the second-highest total in franchise history.