NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans got their feet wet in the preseason opener.
This week, they'll dive into action against the Carolina Panthers. The two teams will hold joint practices together at Saint Thomas Sports Park on Wednesday and Thursday, leading up to their game at Nissan Stadium on Saturday.
"I'm looking forward to it," Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. "When I've done this before, it's very competitive. It's really good work for the younger players, really good work. Specifically offensively, you're going against a different front than we've been facing all offseason with the four-down front, so that's a good thing for us. I've said it before, a couple of similar teams as far as how they approach the game. It'll be very competitive, very competitive. (But) they've been told we're not having anything after the whistle."
The Titans will practice Wednesday from 10:15 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., and Thursday from 9:15 - 11:30 a.m. The practices are open to the public, and admission is free.
Titans players say they're looking forward to it as well.
"We go up against each other multiple times a day, so it's always good to see another color across the ball," linebacker Derrick Morgan said. "I think it will be a good measuring stick and it's just another step in the process."
"I love it,'' added cornerback Logan Ryan. "I love competition, and to work against another team and see where you're at. So I think it's great."
The Panthers have some intriguing players on offense, from quarterback Cam Newton to running back Christian McCaffrey to tight end Greg Olsen to receiver Kelvin Benjamin. On defense, linebacker Luke Kuechly is one of the game's best. In his 16th NFL season, defensive end Julius Peppers is still standing out as well.
While Newton has been limited while recovering from shoulder surgery, he's expected to do some work against the Titans. But the Panthers have been very cautious with Newton since he suffered a setback early in camp, so it would be a surprise if he's a full-go. On the heels of his preseason debut, quarterback Marcus Mariota will work for the Titans.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera has been very complimentary of Mularkey and the Titans leading up to practices, and Saturday's game. The last time the Panthers visited Nashville, the two teams butted heads after a Newton touchdown celebration.
"The whole focus is the practice. It's not to get into any BS or anything like that," Rivera told reporters. "I've talked with coach Mularkey and we're going to do the best we can to contain that.
"We really believe it's a great opportunity for our guys to practice well against each other, a new set of people to work against, different philosophies and ideas," he added. "And it should help the players. And for us it gives us a great opportunity to evaluate."
The Titans have hosted a number of teams through the years for practices during training camp, including the Colts, Dolphins, Falcons and Rams. The team also traveled to Georgia to practice with the Falcons in Dalton and at their practice facility and to Illinois to face the Rams.
Sometimes, things get a little extra feisty.
The Titans say they're ready to hit -- with their pads.
"We are definitely going to compete, but I will say this," linebacker Wesley Woodyard said with a smile. "Nobody wants to get fined. So we are going to make sure we keep our tempers very cool.
"We are competitive and we want to win, and be dominant in every drill that we have. That's going to show for sure."