NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Three preseason games down, one to go for the Titans.
Here's a look at six things that stood out from the team's 27-14 win over the Raiders.
Mariota is ready**
Quarterback Marcus Mariota looks comfortable, and ready go. I was impressed by what I saw from Mariota last year in the preseason, and then he went out and threw for four touchdowns in the regular season opener at Tampa Bay. I'm not saying Mariota's going to have another start to the season like last year, but there's no question he looks good and is poised for a big season in 2016.
Secondary needs to settle down
The Titans have given up too many plays in the secondary during the preseason. The Raiders scored two touchdowns early, and the Panthers burned the Titans the week prior with a long TD pass on their first drive. Cornerback Antwon Blake has struggled of late. I firmly believe things will improve when cornerback Perrish Cox returns to play opposite Jason McCourty, because he'll be more consistent outside and Brice McCain will return to his more comfortable spot, in the slot. The Titans better hope this is the case at least.
Casey looks to be in midseason form**
Defensive lineman Jurrell Casey appears primed and ready to disrupt offensive lines this fall. Casey was a beast on Saturday night in Oakland, and he's been good throughout the offseason. If the Titans can stay healthy at outside linebacker with Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan, Casey is going to take advantage of more one-on-one situations and pile up some big numbers this fall.
Return game has provided no new clues
Titans coach Mike Mularkey has experimented with several players in the return game during the preseason, but no one has proven worthy of being the full-time guy when the season starts. I like rookie Kevin Byard, but throwing him out there for Minnesota probably isn't fair based on what we've seen so far. While fellow rookie Kalan Reed is expected to get more chances against Miami, he's also untested. Tre McBride and Antonio Andrews have had limited success during their opportunities, although McBride definitely has the speed. Right now, Dexter McCluster continues to look like the best option.
Confidence is up**
Mularkey said on Sunday the players are seeing what's been taught on the practice field pay off on the field, and that's a nice development. With just five wins over the past two seasons, players who've been around the organization for years had every reason to be skeptical at the start of the offseason. But with success on the field, the confidence level in the new coaching staff has grown, and that should help at the start of the season.
I like the young cornerbacks
The Titans have some difficult decisions to make at a number of positions, including cornerback. Based on what I've seen so far, I'd have a hard time parting ways with some of the young cornerbacks. Kalan Reed and LeShaun Sims have been impressive throughout the offseason, and I've always been high on second-year cornerback Cody Riggs because of his toughness, and smarts. But with Cox, McCourty and McCain considered locks, not everyone can stay. Veterans Blake and B.W. Webb are in the mix as well.
The Tennessee Titans battle the Raiders in Week 3 of the 2016 preseason in Oakland. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)