NASHVILLE, Tenn. —Here's a look at six things that stood out -- good and bad -- from Sunday's season-opening loss to the Vikings.
Tajae Sharpe continues to pass every test. Sharpe, the team's first rookie receiver to start a season opener in the "Titans era" (1999-present), was the team's best receiver on Sunday, catching seven passes for 76 yards. He made tough, third down catches with defenders draped on him, and he caught balls going across the middle. Sharpe has clearly gained the trust of the coaches and the quarterback. In his first NFL game, he played 64 of the team's 67 offensive plays.
Heading into the season, Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota said his top priority focused on taking better care of the football. As a team, the Titans finished minus-14 in that category last season, tied for 30th in the NFL. But Mariota threw an interception that was returned for a TD – and had another overturned because of a roughing-the-passer penalty. Mariota and running back DeMarco Murray both took blame for a botched exchange that produced another Minnesota TD. The Titans have to clean up the mistakes moving forward. **
RB work **
There were plenty of questions heading into the season about the Murray/Derrick Henry split at running back. Murray played 75 percent of the team's offensive snaps (50 plays) while Henry was on the field for 31 percent of the plays (21 plays). Murray caught five passes – and two touchdowns -- and he ran for 43 yards. While Henry didn't have as much luck running the ball (3 yards on 5 carries), he made something out of nothing on a 29-yard reception. The two were on the field at the same time on numerous occasions. Needed more plays on D
The Titans played well enough on defense to win on Sunday. They held Vikings running back Adrian Peterson to just 31 yards on 19 carries (a 1.6-yard average) and kept Minnesota's offense out of the end zone. Vikings quarterback Shaun Hill got way too comfortable for my liking, however. He threw for 236 yards, and completed some big passes on third down. On a day when the Vikings scored two touchdowns on defense, the Titans were unable to sack Hill or force him into a mistake. **
Third-and-one probs **
With Murray, Henry, and fullback Jalston Fowler, converting third-and-ones should be automatic. But it wasn't on Sunday. Some trickery failed early when Mariota ducked down before lateraling to Henry for a one-yard loss. Later, the Titans went with the more conventional approach, and Henry got stuffed for no gain. Mariota converted one 3rd-and-1 on a run, and he connected with Harry Douglas for a first down on another. But the Titans would like this play to be converted on a regular basis. Casey impact
Titans defensive lineman Jurrell Casey was his usual disruptive self. According to Pro Football Focus, Casey had three run stops on his 20 run snaps, and he also had two quarterback hits and three QB hurries on 26 pass rushing snaps. As a defense, the Titans failed in their mission to disrupt Hill, but Casey showed up on the defensive line.
The Tennessee Titans kick off the 2016 season in Week 1 against the Minnesota Vikings at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)