Titans vs. Panthers: Six Things to Watch


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Titans face the Carolina Panthers in Week 2 of the preseason on Saturday at Nissan Stadium.

Here's a look at six things to watch…

Running Backs

DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry made it look easy last week in the preseason opener. Bishop Sankey and Antonio Andrews did, too. As a team, the Titans racked up 288 yards on the ground. Things won't be as easy this week against the Panthers, who ranked fourth in the NFL in run defense a year ago. Running David Cobb, who missed last week, probably needs to start making a case for himself in the competition for a back-up spot.


Offensive Line**

The Titans wouldn't have been able to run so well against the Chargers without a consistent push up front. After one week of the preseason, the reviews were good about the revamped offensive line. Carolina's front seven will present a completely different challenge, however. Left guard Quinton Spain has done a nice job holding off the competition to this point. Against some big men in the middle, he'll need to prove himself again on Saturday. Dennis Kelly, acquired the trade with the Eagles earlier in the week, will work with the second team at right tackle.

Return Game

Rookie safety Kevin Byard has already proven to be a playmaker in the secondary. He had an interception against the Chargers, and then had two picks the next day out on the practice field. Now, he's going to get a chance in the return game. Coach Mike Mularkey plans to also give rookie cornerback Kalan Reed in the return game. If one of them breaks one, they'll be a contender.


Cam Dance?**

He wouldn't do it again would he? Surely not in a preseason game. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is a big man with a personality. He was on full display last November when the Panthers visited Nissan Stadium. Newton's extended celebrations, and dancing, got on the nerves of the Titans. Linebackers Avery Williamson and Wesley Woodyard let him know they didn't approve. So what if Cam starts Dabbin' again? Woodyard said on Friday what happened last year was last year. We'll see.

Justin Hunter, Other Receivers

When the Titans traded away Dorial Green-Beckham earlier in the week, fourth-year receiver Justin Hunter said it got his attention, and gave him an even greater sense of urgency. After a solid week of practice, Hunter needs to prove his worth in games, and convince the Titans the team needs him. A number of receivers could help themselves further on Saturday. Tre McBride has been especially impressive in practices, and could help himself further with a breakout preseason performance.

Mariota Progress

You didn't think we'd forget the starting quarterback here, did you? Marcus Mariota got off to a nice start last week. He was 5 of-5 for 45 yards, and the team scored 10 points in the two possessions he was in the game. Mariota said this week he'd like to keep the momentum going against the Panthers. Mariota's expected to see roughly a quarter of action, and I expect him to put the ball in the air more than last week.

The Tennessee Titans take on the Carolina Panthers Week 10 at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)

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