- Isaiah Mack played the third most defensive snaps among the five active defensive linemen, trailing Jurrell Casey and just one snap behind DaQuan Jones. It was eyebrow raising when Mack sat out the final preseason game while Brent Urban, Austin Johnson, and Matt Dickerson played, but this pretty much confirms that he didn’t just make the 53, he made it comfortably and leap frogged those three on the depth chart. The Titans clearly love what they’ve seen from the undrafted rookie so far.
- Jonnu Smith and MyCole Pruitt both out-snapped Delanie Walker. It seems as if the Titans may have their veteran tight end on a bit of a pitch count, but obviously it didn’t slow his production. Smith playing over 60% of the snaps on offense was a bit surprising considering he is just a few weeks removed from the PUP list, but on that TE jet sweep it sure looked like he was just as explosive as ever. Smith has been a little bit lost in the shuffle with the interest surrounding the new pieces at wide receiver and Walker’s return, but if he can take the next step in his development, that’s just one more matchup nightmare the Titans can throw at opposing defenses in what looks like a suddenly deep group of offensive playmakers.
- Adam Humphries gets only 22 snaps in his Titans debut. It was surprising to me that we didn’t see more of the team’s big free agent addition in this game, but my guess is that was largely game plan specific. The Titans rolled with more heavy personnel groups in this game in an effort to help a less than 100% offensive line against a dynamic Browns front. There will be bigger days for Humphries moving forward I’m sure.
- A.J. Brown and Tajae Sharpe splitting snaps as the Titans “other” wide receiver. I would have expected Humphries to get more snaps in two-wide sets, but the Titans seemed to prefer sticking with Corey Davis and either Sharpe or Brown in most of their 12 and 21 personnel packages. I would suspect that Brown will end up wrestling the majority of these reps away from Sharpe in the relatively near future after his scintillating 100-yard debut.
- Amani Hooker played 37% of snaps as the Titans lived in nickel and big dime packages throughout the game. Looking at the corner snap percentages, you can see the Titans had Adoree’ Jackson on the field for 100% of snaps, Malcolm Butler for 96%, and Logan Ryan for 95% which means that Tennessee lived in their nickel package all game, much like they did at times last season. The only difference is that with the addition of Hooker, the Titans played a good amount of big dime as well, putting six defensive backs on the field (three safeties and three corners). Hooker didn’t really stand out in this game, but that’s not a bad thing for a rookie defensive back making his first NFL start. It continues to look like Jon Robinson found a gem in his first fourth round pick as Titans GM.
- Cameron Wake got 2.5 sacks and 4 QB hits on just 24 snaps. That’s an absolutely unreal amount of production on that snap count. It’s worth noting that Wake ranked second among all edge rushers in PFF’s pass rush efficiency metric last season so this is more or less a continuation of his dominance rather than a bounce back. The plan with Wake is clear: let Sharif Finch handle the early down work and bring in the ageless future Hall of Famer with fresh legs for obvious passing situations. It worked like a charm in Cleveland.
- Derrick Henry is the clear RB1. We expected this to be the case, but Henry’s usage picked up right where it left off at the end of last season and so did his production. Dion Lewis will continue to get most of the third down work and will get a series every now and then, but this is King Henry’s backfield.
- Wesley Woodyard is now a true backup/special teamer. It’s been clear all summer that Rashaan Evans and Jayon Brown would be the starters at inside linebacker, but there was some question how much rotation there would be with Woodyard. The answer in Cleveland was very little. Evans (79%) and Brown (90%) dominated the snaps on defense while Woodyard mostly contributed on special teams (where he’s serving as the special teams captain). Sure, Woodyard is slowing down a tick, but I think this says more about how good the Titans feel about Brown and Evans than anything negative about the team’s leading tackler from the past two seasons. It’s a luxury to have a backup with that level experience and ability.
There were a few surprises in the amount of playing time some guys got yesterday.