As we head into the second half of the pre-season, there are so many story lines to keep up with. I tried to narrow it down to three for you. Here's what I'm looking for tomorrow night.
Kevin Byard's opportunity
Last week we saw Byard get a shot in the return game, this week we may see him get some run with the first team. Mularkey said that it would be coordinated by the secondary coaches, but that there are certain "combinations" that he wants to see work. Suddenly the Titans are pretty deep at safety, but Byard could crack the starting lineup sooner rather than later. He'll get a good test against a pretty good Oakland offense.
Issues at cornerback
Jason McCourty and Perrish Cox have been banged up, but the depth behind them has been atrocious so far. Antwon Blake may have played himself out of a roster spot already. I'd like to see more of Cody Riggs, Kalan Reed and LeShaun Sims earlier in these contests. The Titans have yet to settle into a groove at corner and have yet to really work together as an entire secondary. That's a huge concern heading into the regular season. They need someone to step up behind McCourty and Cox.
Consistency running the ball
The Titans got some things done on the ground against Carolina after a tough start. The team's top three rushers actually all averaged four yards per carry or better. We didn't see any big homeruns, but it was a solid effort against one of the leagues best defenses. They'll get another opportunity against another good front in Oakland. If the Titans can run the ball like they have so far, there's no reason why they can't take a significant step forward this year.
Quinton Spain is still holding on to the starting left guard spot, despite Tretola and Schwenke breathing down his neck. It's a big game for each of those three. David Cobb got the number three back work last week, but Mularkey said that it was Antonio Andrews that led the competition because of his special teams work. Cobb impressed after his fumble last week, but will probably need to do more to make this team.
Mularkey said earlier in the week that the starters could play up to an entire half on Saturday night. I'm interested to see how he'll work in guys like Derrick Henry, Tre McBride, Kevin Byard and Kevin Dodd. It'll give us an idea of how the rotations will work.
This is the final game before the first cut down happens. Teams have to go from 90 to 75 by August 30th, so all of the fringe guys will be playing for their jobs this weekend. You can catch the game on Saturday night at 7 PM CST on CBS.