The Titans dropped their preseason home opener to the Bucs by a score of 30-14 Saturday night. Here are the players that I thought stood out for both good and bad reasons.
Taylor didn’t start the game — Tajae Sharpe got the nod after a strong week of practice — but he made the biggest impact of any Titan on the field. He posted a 4 catch, 95 yards, and 2 touchdowns line which included a wide receiver screen that Taylor took 47 yards for a touchdown. He showed off incredible speed on the play, eating up angles from the Bucs safeties. Later, Taylor showed another side to his game when he got inside leverage on a quick slant for his second touchdown grab, this one coming from Blaine Gabbert.
Taylor has been among the most impressive Titans in camp and showed some of that ability on Saturday night. His speed is a real problem for opposing defenses and he has a chance to be a difference maker for the Titans this fall.
Lewan didn’t play a ton of snaps as the first team offense came off after Taywan Taylor’s touchdown late in the 1st quarter, but while he was in he completely shut down Jason Pierre-Paul. Those two had gone at it all week during practice with JPP dishing out plenty of trash talk, but Pierre-Paul was extremely quiet tonight and that’s because of Lewan.
You saw a little snapshot of what Lewis can be against the Bucs. He had a sequence where he put together consecutive catches for first downs. While DeMarco Murray was a very good pass catching back, he was never the type of back that could take a check down and turn it in to an explosive play. That’s exactly what Lewis is and it can be a big help to Marcus Mariota this season.
Finch just continues to stand out. Last week he dominated former Titan Byron Bell. This week it was former Titan Brad Seaton. He was a force off the edge for Tennessee on Saturday, recording multiple pressures while continuing to showcase an arsenal of pass rush moves.
Another nice rep from Sharif Finch. I'd be surprised if he doesn't make the team. pic.twitter.com/DywTLz54bW— Ty Wurth (@WurthDraft) August 19, 2018
Finch constantly shows up when he’s out there. I think he has to be on this 53-man roster.
Dawkins got a lot of opportunities in this game, leading the Titans in carries and rushing yards. He primarily worked ahead of Akrum Wadley which is a win in itself, but Dawkins also put together some nice runs.
The RB3 spot is still clearly David Fluellen’s to lose — and he played well again tonight — but Dawkins is making things interesting at the back of the roster at running back. He’s got some nice burst and runs hard.
Not only did Johnson get the start at nose tackle over Bennie Logan, but he also played really well during the game. He flashed a few times with some nice work stacking, shedding, and making tackles at the line of scrimmage. I thought he was a bright spot along the defensive line against the Bucs.
Ross had a bad fumble at the end of what was a nice catch and run. He was already a guy who needed to be phenomenal to earn a roster spot and fumbling only makes that hill steeper.
Lewis had an up and down night after sitting out the first preseason game in Green Bay. He made a nice pass break up in man coverage, but he also was late reacting a few times and allowed some big plays. To make matters worse, Lewis ended his night with an injury. The Titans have had some incredibly bad luck with injuries at the safety spot already so hopefully it’s nothing serious.
The Cornerback Depth (still)
Last week the Titans depth corners got torched so bad that three of them got cut in the days following the game. This week wasn’t much better. The starting secondary did a pretty nice job, limiting Ryan Fitzpatrick to just 5 of 13 passing for 46 yards and no touchdowns. However, the backups struggled again, allowing Jameis Winston — who came in after Fitzpatrick — and Ryan Griffin to combine to go 19 of 29 for 314 yards and 3 touchdowns.
The Titans were without Kalan Reed and Malcolm Butler which meant that several players got looks higher in the rotation than they normally would. Kenneth Durden — one of the corners signed this week — was the first man up with LeShaun Sims after Adoree’ Jackson and Logan Ryan went to the bench. Durden played OK, but that spot in the rotation suggests he has a real shot at making this team.