NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans open their 2015 preseason schedule this week on the road against the Atlanta Falcons. Kickoff at the Georgia Dome (capacity 71,228) is scheduled for 7 p.m. EDT/6 p.m. CDT on Friday, Aug. 14.
The game will be televised regionally on the Titans Preseason TV Network, including flagship WKRN-News 2 in Nashville. Play-by-play announcer Cory Curtis and analyst Eddie George will call the action, while Audra Martin will report from the sidelines. Additionally, NFL Network will broadcast the game live to a national audience.
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.
*MARIOTA, LeBEAU HEADLINE GROUP MAKING TITANS PRESEASON DEBUT *
Quarterback Marcus Mariota is among several newcomers expected to appear this week in a Titans uniform for the first time. The rookie signal caller was the second overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, becoming the highest drafted quarterback in Titans/Oilers history. He was the first of nine picks in the team's draft class, which also includes wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, the 40th overall selection in the second round.
At the University of Oregon, Mariota broke nearly every major passing record for the school, totaling 10,796 career passing yards and 105 touchdown passes. The three-time All-Pac-12 selection completed at least one touchdown pass in every game during his career, and 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, and even caught a touchdown pass. His 58 total touchdowns during the season (passing, rushing and receiving) shattered the previous Pac-12 record of 41 (Matt Barkley, 2011).
Additionally, Titans general manager Ruston Webster helped negotiate deals for the following free agents, all of whom are expected to compete for extensive playing time: 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, Carolina tackle Byron Bell and Indianapolis wide receiver Hakeem Nicks.
Entering his second season as Titans head coach, Ken Whisenhuntkept his staff primarily intact from 2014, but one of the few changes he made was adding Dick LeBeau as assistant head coach/defense. LeBeau, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, brings 56 years of NFL experience as a player and coach to Tennessee, including 13 total seasons (1995-96, 2004-14) as the defensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers. With the "zone blitz" architect managing the Pittsburgh defense, the unit finished among the top-five in total defense 10 times and ranked first overall five times.
THE FALCONS **
While the Titans anticipate seeing Mariota in action for the first time, the Falcons will be celebrating a historic debut as well, as Dan Quinn makes his first preseason appearance as the club's head coach. He takes over the club after coordinating the vaunted Seattle Seahawks defense for the last two seasons (2013-14), during which time the unit allowed a league-low 270.4 yards per game, 15.2 points per game, and 178.8 passing yards per game.
The Falcons suffer no shortage of star power on their veteran roster, beginning with eighth-year quarterback Matt Ryan, the owner of nearly every Falcons passing record. The three-time Pro Bowl selection has topped the 4,000-yard passing mark in each of the last four campaigns and has a franchise-best 28,166 career passing yards. In 2014, he threw for 4,694 yards and 28 touchdowns.
Ryan's top passing targets, wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones, have a total of six Pro Bowls between them—four by White and two by Jones.