The Tennessee Titans take to the road for their second match-up of the preseason as they travel to southern Ohio to face the Cincinnati Bengals. Here's a run down of my top three things to keep an eye on for Titans fans.
After a lot of hype for the second year in a row, Tommie Campbell has failed in his attempts to seize the starting outside corner position from Alterraun Verner. Campbell was apparently hindered by a groin injury and was worried about getting beat deep during the first preseason game against the Redskins, but says he will be ready to go for this weekend, and should play more of his aggressive press-man style.
Campbell is slated to get the starting reps against the first team offense. It looks like A.J. Green will be on the sidelines during this weekends game, leaving Campbell with little to no excuses. This could be the last first team reps he sees if he doesn't improve dramatically over last week.
The Offensive Line
The Titans made their overhaul of the offensive line their top priority of the offseason both through free agency and the draft. Head coach Mike Munchak has made it a point to say that this team will be based around it's offensive line. They want to control the line of scrimmage and control the pace of the game. Gains in the running game as well as pass protection are expected.
The Cincinnati Bengals have a very good defensive line, perhaps the best in the league, and will provide a formidable litmus test for the newly formed group. Both defensive tackle Geno Atkins and defensive end Michael Johnson generated double digit sacks last year, with Carlos Dunlap pitching in for another 6. They also have a mammoth tackle in Domata Peko who weighs in at 6'-3" and 322 pounds, and often requires two linemen to move him off the ball on running downs. Time to see if the Titans can really play ball the way they want to.
*Fernando Velasco will also get his chance to show he should keep the starting center job and will get the nod to start the game.
The Passing Game
Jake Locker didn't wow anyone in his first preseason game, but did look sharp with his ball placement. While most of his throws were of the check down variety, it's good to keep in mind that's exactly what the coaching staff wants him to do, and has been preaching all off season.
Going against a much more formidable line, it will be interesting to see how much more offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains decides to roll Locker out or move the pocket. Will we see some pistol formations and a more vertical threat? Or are Titans fans doomed to return to a plodding offense that runs 8 minutes off the clock every drive?
Overall the Bengals are a very good team in a tough division. The Titans won't be getting second string quarterbacks and running backs to start the game like last week and should have their hands full from the get go. It's still just a preseason game, but this one should give the coaches and fans a better feel for the personnel the Titans really have.