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Tennessee Titans Preseason: Titans 32, Saints 9

The Titans lined-up with a much better team than the Saints from the opening series, and the performances on both sides reflected it. While the Titans’ defense dominated, the offense struggled to find any rhythm with Matt Hasselbeck in the game.

Now, a good chunk of that can be blamed on the consistently mediocre Jamie Harper, but it was really frustrating to see Hasselbeck bail on so many plays: skipping the screen pass off the grass and throwing away at least two more balls on 3rd down jump to mind. With so many WRs jockeying for position, and Kenny Britt dying to get some rhythm and reps, why just give up on a play?  At least give the guys the chance to surprise us.

Outside of Locker (skip through the jump for more on that), the defense was the story of the night. Granted it helped that the Saints started a QB and RB who are virtual locks not to make the roster, but the first team DT rotation shredded the New Orleans protections, and the secondary swarmed to make plays all game long. The final result is best summed up in the +5 turnover ratio. There were issues at times with the run stopping, but nothing that worried me too much.

The real takeaway from this game is: Jake Locker is a gamer. He’s got to learn to throw from the pocket on schedule at a much higher level than he’s capable of right now, but every other part of his game is NFL ready. He can improvise, he can scramble, he’s incredibly accurate on the move, and he always looks to make a play. The cherry on top is that I’m pretty sure he can do all of those things without flipping-out for any damned reason, which is a huge improvement over last year.

3 stars for the night:

Jake Locker: he’s won a lot Titans fans over during this preseason, and we needed that.

The other rookies: Akeem Ayers, Karl Klug, Colin McCarthy and Tommie Campbell have been four of the more impressive rookies I’ve ever seen in one Titans rookie class, and they’re not even the superstars of their own team’s draft class.

Jordan Babineaux: Yes, he should be starting over Hope, but I get the feeling he’ll make several big plays as the secondary equivalent to a utility infielder. He’s going to be on the field after the past few games for sure.

2 duds:

Lavelle Hawkins: If there was another preseason game you could play, gramsey might actually have to cry watching you play. Considering how close you are to losing your roster spot, falling down on a kick return and only coming up with a TD catch that was a gimmie, I just don't think he got it done. It just wasn't enough to win a spot to my mind, and that's so disappointing.

Stafon Johnson: I can’t even be mad at him. I felt horrible for the kid when he tripped and fell on that goal line run. I swear the kid just can’t catch a break.