The Titans take the field at Nissan Stadium for the first time this season today and I am hoping we see a bounce back performance from the offense. We should see DeMarco Murray out there this week after he sat out last week’s game with the Jets with a slight hamstring strain. It will be interesting to see how the coaches split the first team reps between him and Derrick Henry.
Eric Decker (ankle), Corey Davis (hamstring), and Tajae Sharpe (foot) will all miss this game with injuries so we still won’t be seeing the wide receiver group anywhere near full strength. Decker’s injury was called "minor" this week and it sounds like Davis is making strides towards a return. I would love to see Davis get some work in before the preseason is over, but we will have to wait at least another week to see #84 make his Titans debut.
The top of the depth chart on defense is much healthier (knock on wood), but we will have to check on the status of some of the depth corners when game time rolls around. Kalan Reed, Demontre Hurst, Curtis Riley, and Tye Smith all sat out of Thursday’s practice. We know that Hurst has a groin strain that has him day-to-day, but no specific injuries have been reported with the other guys. Hopefully at least a few of them will be able to go, particularly Kalan Reed who will be trying to build on his stellar start to 2017 last week.
Here are my 3 players to watch for Titans-Panthers:
Logan Ryan #26
Ryan had a rough game last week as he got beat early and often by the Jets passing game. While I don’t think it was all his fault — Byard was late getting over to help on the deep ball — Ryan certainly needs to be better moving forward. Its possible that he was a little too amped up heading in to his first game after a big payday in his home state of New Jersey. It also wasn’t a great matchup for him. As I’ve mentioned before, he’s much better against bigger, more physical receivers than he is against speedy guys. Robbie Anderson — the Jets receiver who beat him deep — is a 4.33 guy who is the opposite of who we should be using Ryan to cover when the real games start. But those are excuses and no one wants to hear excuses from a $10M/year player.
I want to see how Ryan bounces back this week facing a pair of receivers that are much more in his wheelhouse in Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess. Jimmy predicted a Ryan interception this morning and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that.
Tyler Marz #69
I wrote about a possible position battle forming at right guard yesterday and Marz seems to be one of the guys that could be pushing for Josh Kline’s spot. Marz is a relative unknown as an undrafted free agent from 2016 who spent all of last year on the Titans practice squad. He is listed as a tackle, but was the first lineman off the bench to fill in with the first team at right guard to fill inwhen the Titans moved Kline over to center early in the Jets game. At the very least, Marz has put himself squarely in the conversation to make the roster which is something that I don’t think anyone outside of the Titans organization expected before camp.
Marz is more of a mauler than Kline and could help improve the running game, but the question is whether he can hold up in pass protection. Keep an eye on #69 today and see how he looks when he gets in there at both guard and tackle.
Jonnu Smith #81
Smith is the 3rd round rookie tight end who looks like a Delanie Walker clone physically. So far he has earned a lot of praise in camp and I want to see him get some shots in the passing game today. He is going to have some role in this offense in 2017, but it still remains to be seen how big that role will be.
I am very high on Smith’s long term potential here. His athletic traits are elite and from listening to Mularkey talk about him in camp, he is extremely coachable. That is a pretty good foundation for a good football player. Its hard not to root for this kid.
- Taywan Taylor gets his first preseason touchdown... and half the stadium says “Kendall Wright is gonna have a great year” afterwards.
- Both Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan get sacks. The Panthers line is bad y’all.
- Adoree Jackson scores a touchdown (I know I used this one last week, but I’m doubling down).