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Titans vs. Rams: What to Watch For Defensively

The first team defense got ripped apart by Atlanta. They'll get an easier task this week.

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The debut of the Titans' new look defense didn't quite live up to expectations last week.  High dollar additions like Brian Orakpo and Da'Norris Searcy showed up and offered a couple of flash plays, but the end result was ugly.  Matt Ryan and Julio Jones marched down the field and scored with ease.  It was just the first preseason game, but it brought back some brutal memories from last season's defensive group.

What was the issue last week?  For me, it was simple.  The Titans' zone looks were a mess.  Julio Jones was running freely through the defense, finding each weak point in the zone coverages.  The linebackers were biting hard on play action, not getting enough depth in turn.  This left the middle of the field vulnerable for Jones and company.

I'm looking for improvement in this department.  Surely LeBeau highlighted this in film study throughout this week. As a result,  hopefully we will get an extended look at Orakpo coming off of the edge.  He looked good in limited snaps last week, producing this highlight for us.

This week will mark the debut of the Titans' new rotational pass rusher, Jonathan Massaquoi.  Massaquoi is going to be a key piece on this roster, providing depth and insurance if something were to happen to Derrick Morgan or Brian Orakpo.  He flashed his talent several times as a Falcon, but never seemed to put it all together.  We'll see what he can offer on Sunday.

The secondary will once again be without Jason McCourty, who is nursing a groin injury.  Blidi Wreh-Wilson will also be unavailable.  This leaves Perish Cox, Coty Sensabaugh and Cody Riggs to handle first team cornerback duties. It will be a great opportunity to get an extended look at Sensabaugh and Riggs, who are battling for playing time in the secondary.

The Rams will throw a deep, talented receiver group at the Titans.  Kenny Britt, Brian Quick, Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and Chris Givens should test the secondary.  I'm interested the most in Cody Riggs, who has a lot of momentum going this camp.  He seems to have a spot on this roster, but his is a huge opportunity for him to push for playing time down the road.

Up front, the Titans will be without Sammie Lee Hill, giving Al Woods another start.  Once again, they weren't really tested last week.  The Falcons attacked through the air, but the Rams should come at them with the run game.  St. Louis retooled their offensive line, spending several draft picks on the offensive front.  It should be a formidable test for Jurrell Casey and company.