Titans Lose to Chiefs as Mariota, Starters Sit Out

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KANSAS CITY –** It's time for the regular season.

The Titans wrapped up preseason play with a 30-6 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs here at Arrowhead Stadium on a night when the team's starters wore baseball caps instead of helmets.

Several hours before kickoff, quarterback Marcus Mariota and the rest of the front-line players went through an extensive workout on the field. After heading back into the locker room, the same players came out for warmups roughly an hour before the game, in uniform.

But Titans coach Mike Mularkey opted to hold the starters out, something he decided prior to landing in Kansas City. Still, he didn't let the players know until Thursday.

"We're healthy going into the opener," Mularkey said. "And that was the No.1 objective coming out of training camp, to have everybody healthy to go against Oakland."

Now the team turns its complete attention to making roster cuts, while preparing for the September 10 opener against the Oakland Raiders at Nissan Stadium. All NFL teams must trim their rosters to 53 players by 3 p.m. Saturday.

Here on Thursday night, backup quarterback Matt Cassel started in place of Mariota, and he completed 3-of-4 passes for 35 yards before being replaced by Alex Tanney in the second quarter. Tanney finished the night 9-of-22 for 101 yards and an interception before rookie Tyler Ferguson finished the game at quarterback.

David Fluellen started at running back, and finished the game with 74 rushing yards on 19 carries behind a starting offensive line that looked like this: LT Dennis Kelly, LG Josue Matias, C Tim Lelito, RG Corey Levin, and RT Tyler Marz.

Tight end Jonnu Smith provided some highlights on a night when receivers Tre McBride and Tajae Sharpe got plenty of early work. Smith hauled in a 20-yard pass in the first half, and had two catches for 25 yards before halftime.

The Titans sat their regular starters on defense as well, instead opting to give cornerback Adoree' Jackson and other youngsters more work.

Kansas City made some big plays to take control of the game by halftime.

After Ryan Succop's 40-yard field goal gave the Titans a 3-0 lead, the Chiefs took a 13-3 lead by intermission. The Chiefs scored touchdowns on Jehu Chesson's 76-yard punt return, and a 28-yard pass from quarterback Patrick Mahomes to Demarcus Robinson. A Cairo Santos field goal extended Kansas City's lead to 16-3 before Succop added a 48-yard field goal in the third quarter to make it 16-6.

The Chiefs then scored on a two-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tyler Bray to tight end Gavin Escobar to make it 23-6 with 1:52 left in the third quarter. Later, Chiefs quarterback Joel Stave connected with Tevin Jones for a 68-yard touchdown to make it 30-6 with 9:54 left in the fourth quarter.

The Titans finished the preseason with a 1-3 mark.

"It's not the way you wanted to end the preseason, but like I told our guys in the locker room, I was actually very proud of them," Mularkey said. "Because I know each and every one of them that played tonight – some their last game – I know they gave their best effort and competed the best they could. … I appreciate them."

Players on both sides of the football said they believe the team is ready for the regular season. "I think we're where we want to be at offense-wise," tight end Delanie Walker said. "Of course, we can always get better. I think that's what we're going to be moving towards going into Week One; just trying to get back on assignment running the ball and being able to pass it."

"I believe so," added Titans defensive lineman Jurrell Casey. "Everybody came out flying around (in the preseason), and I believe we executed a lot. We didn't do too bad at all. I think we are where we wanted to be from last year. All it's going to take is all of us executing on all three phases offense, defense and special teams. That's how you win football games. Once we do that, we'll be great." 

The Tennessee Titans take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 4 of the preseason on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017 at Arrowhead Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones Photography, AP)

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