NASHVILLE, Tenn. —** Preseason game No.1 is in the books for the Titans.
Here's a look at six things that stood out from the team's 27-10 win over the Chargers:
Yes, it's the preseason. And yes, it's just one game. But the Titans are ranked No.1 in the NFL in total offense and No.1 in rushing offense after racking up 437 yards against San Diego, and that includes 288 yards on the ground. It's no secret the Titans want to run the football in 2016. What we saw in the preseason opener was an impressive start, no doubt.
DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry looked fantastic against the Chargers. Murray had two really nice runs early and finished with 93 yards, including the 71-yard run. Henry lowered the boom and showed nice movement to average 7.4 yards a pop. But running backs Bishop Sankey (41-yard TD run) and Antonio Andrews (5.1-yard average) performed well when they were in the game as well. And David Cobb, who looked good in the recent scrimmage, didn't get a carry. He was held out because of a slight hamstring strain.
Cornerback Antwon Blake has stood out in recent practices, and I thought he showed a lot of spunk against the Chargers. Blake, formerly with the Steelers, was consistently around the football for breakups, and nice hits. Blake has gotten more opportunities with other cornerbacks slowed by injury – first Brice McCain, and now Perrish Cox – and he's taken advantage of the extra reps.
The Titans know their starters – Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan on the outside, and Wesley Woodyard and Avery Williamson inside. The team is still figuring out who the other contributors will be, and some reserves made plays. Nate Palmer had a team-high five tackles, and he's stood out in camp. Justin Staples had an interception, and J.R. Tavai and Deiontrez Mount came up with sacks. Curtis Grant was active (4 stops). It was a nice start, and keep in mind second-round pick Kevin Dodd remains sidelined.
Offensive line play**
The Titans need consistent play from the offensive line this fall, and the group got off to a nice start against the Chargers. Taylor Lewan was especially solid at left tackle, but I also thought rookie Jack Conklin held his own at right tackle in his first NFL game. Quinton Spain continues to hold his own at left guard. When the group was in there, the Titans were productive in the run game. It was a good start for the unit, now under the tutelage of offensive line coach Russ Grimm.
Rookie receiver Tajae Sharpe keeps passing tests. Sharpe made a nice play on the first completion of the game – a 31-yard toss from quarterback Marcus Mariota. He later caught a ball across the middle, in traffic. The fifth-round pick from Massachusetts left the game early for precautionary reasons because of a blow to the head, but he's OK, and should practice on Monday night. He was in there long enough to show why he's been running with the ones for the past few months.
The Tennessee Titans kick off the 2016 preseason against the San Diego Chargers at Nissan Stadium. (Donn Jones, AP)