NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Titans offensive line is set.
And so is the mindset when it comes to protecting rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota.
"We don't want him to get touched,'' right tackle Jeremiah Poutasi said. "One time is too many. We can't allow him to be touched."
Earlier this week, coach Ken Whisenhunt said he's confident in his front five – left tackle Taylor Lewan, left guard Byron Bell, center Brian Schwenke, right guard Chance Warmack and Poutasi, a rookie. The Titans traded Andy Levitre to the Falcons over the weekend after moving Bell from right tackle to left guard to take his place, opening the door for Poutasi.
Mariota was sacked just twice in the preseason. The Buccaneers had eight sacks as a team during the preseason.
"I feel very confident, and I am happy they have faith in us,'' Bell said. "We have to go out there and make sure they made the right choice. The plan every year since I have been in the league is the same – keep the quarterback upright. Every now and again he is going to get hit, and we're going to give up a sack. But I think we have a solid group and I am confident we can get it done."
While at Oregon, Mariota was sacked 31 times in 2014, and 66 times in three seasons.
A year ago, the Titans allowed 50 quarterback sacks, with Zach Mettenberger and Charlie Whitehurst brought down 18 times each.
Lewan, heading into his second NFL season, believes the Titans have an improved unit. The strength of Tampa Bay's defensive line is in the middle, where defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Clinton McDonald line up.
"We have the guys,'' Lewan said. "The goal is no sacks, but he is mentally tough. This is the NFL, guys are going to get close to him. This isn't a pillow fight, this isn't a bad scene of Animal House, it's the real deal...We just have to be ready."