Titans Open 2015 Regular Season Sunday at Tampa Bay


NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans (0-0) begin the 2015 regular season this week with a road trip to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0).  Kickoff at Raymond James Stadium (capacity 65,908) is scheduled for 4:25 p.m. EDT/3:25 p.m. CDT on Sunday, Sept. 13.



This week's game will be televised regionally on CBS, including Nashville affiliate WTVF NewsChannel 5.  Andrew Catalon will handle play-by-play duties, while Steve Tasker and Steve Beuerlein will serve as analysts.

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, analyst Frank Wycheck, gameday host Rhett Bryan and sideline reporter Jonathan Hutton.

Additionally, Sports USA will broadcast the Titans-Buccaneers game to a national audience.  Adam Amin (play-by-play) and John Robinson (analyst) will have the call.


The quarterbacks scheduled to start in this week's game were the top two players selected in the 2015 NFL Draft, first pick Jameis Winston and second pick Marcus Mariota.  They became the first two Heisman Trophy winners in history to be selected No. 1 and No. 2 in the same draft.

Since the "common draft era" began in 1967, quarterbacks have been selected with the first and second picks six times.  This will be the third time one of those pairs has squared off as rookies (Drew Bledsoe and Rick Mirer in 1993; Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf in 1998) but the first time it has happened in Week 1.

Mariota entered the NFL after a record-breaking three seasons at the University of Oregon.  He set nearly every major passing record for the school, totaling 10,796 career yards passing and 105 touchdown passes. He became one of four players in FBS history to pass for 10,000 yards and rush for 2,000 yards (2,237), joining Dan LeFevour, Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick.

In his final season with the Ducks, Mariota won the Heisman Trophy as college football's best player and led his team to the College Football Playoff Championship Game. He passed for 4,454 yards and 42 touchdowns with only four interceptions, added 770 yards and 15 touchdowns as a runner.

Winston started 27 career games at Florida State, passing for 7,964 yards and 65 touchdowns.  He won his first 26 starts to set an NCAA Division I record and led the Seminoles to a national championship in 2013, the same year he became the youngest player to ever win the Heisman.

The last time Mariota and Winston's teams played each other was the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, when Oregon defeated Florida State 59-20.



The Titans are looking for a fast start in 2015 under head coach Ken Whisenhunt, who enters his second season with the Titans and his eighth campaign as an NFL head coach.  His squad finished the preseason with a 2-2 record after defeating the Minnesota Vikings 24-17 on Sept. 3.

Mariota's preseason included starts in all four contests, and he went 21-of-30 passing for 326 yards with one touchdown and one interception.  His 70 percent completion rate and 10.9 yards per attempt led the NFL's rookies during the preseason, and his 102.9 passer rating finished behind only Green Bay's Brett Hundley.

Mariota is one of nine rookies on the Titans' 53-man roster, but several veterans are scheduled to make their Titans regular season debuts as well.  The crop of free agents brought aboard during the offseason included Buffalo safety Da'Norris Searcy, Atlanta wide receiver Harry Douglas, Washington outside linebacker Brian Orakpo, San Francisco cornerback Perrish Cox, Kansas City tight end Anthony Fasano and Carolina tackle Byron Bell, all of whom are expected to see a significant number of snaps.


TitansOnline.com looks back at the all-time series against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (AP Photos)


Lovie Smith is in his second year as head coach of the Buccaneers and his 11th season as a head coach in the NFL.  During the preseason, the Bucs were 2-2, picking up wins over the Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins and losses against the Vikings and Cleveland Browns.

Winston, who was 23-of-47 for 311 yards during the preseason, enjoys the benefit of two returning 1,000-yard wide receivers in Vincent Jackson (1,002 yards in 2014) and Mike Evans (1,051).  Additionally, Tampa Bay features a former 1,000-yard running back, Doug Martin (1,454 yards in 2012).

Defensively, the Buccaneers are led by a pair of All-Pro performers: linebacker Lavonte David and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.  Former Titans Pro Bowl cornerback Alterraun Verner also plays a key role for the Bucs.


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