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Titans-Buccaneers: Recap, notes and highlights

Syndication: The Tennessean George Walker IV / Tennessean.com via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Another game, another dominant preseason performance for the Tennessee Titans. The Buccaneers were on the receiving end tonight, as the Tennessee backups thoroughly dismantled Tampa Bay’s backups to the tune of 34-3.

Who played?

Once again, the Titans gave their first team offense the day off, outside of tight end Anthony Firkser. Logan Woodside got the start under center, while Jeremy McNichols got the go in place of Darrynton Evans, who didn’t play after an injury last week.

Also like last week, the Titans got several members of their first team defense some reps in to start this one. Caleb Farley, the team’s first round pick in the 2021 Draft, made his debut on the third series. Rookie defensive back Elijah Molden started the game in the slot.

Caleb Farley

Farley was burned by Scotty Miller on a double move in the second quarter. The rookie corner bit on an out and up route, and fortunately for him the pass was incomplete as Miller failed to stay in bounds.

That was about it for Farley, who simply got his feet wet tonight after not playing football in 18 months. Nothing to panic about — hopefully we get to see more next week.

Backup Quarterback Battle: Matt Barkley wins the night over Logan Woodside

The veteran passer didn’t have to wait long to see time tonight. After splitting the two halves last week, the Titans put Barkley in the game to start the third drive. Capitalizing on a turnover on downs, Barkley cashed in quickly, completing this play-action pass to Mekhi Sargent for the score.

Woodside had a much slower start to his night. Through four drives, the Woodside-led offense produced just 16 yards of offense.

Barkley got the two-minute drill opportunity to end the first half and quickly moved the Titans into scoring range, where they were able to tack on a field goal.

Woodside did come back in the third quarter to find Dez Fitzpatrick for a touchdown. Back and forth they went — Barkley returned the favor with an impressive touchdown strike to Mason Kinsey. It was a tight window for Barkley and he nailed it.

Barkley is pretty clearly more physically gifted of the two, particularly in the arm strength category. Tonight he handled pressure better and was the more consistent performer. I’d guess he has a leg up following tonight.

Golden debut for Molden

Elijah Molden was all over the field tonight and looks more than ready to step into the nickel role, which is where he started tonight with the first team. He did a little bit of everything tonight, and really made his mark on this game in the second half.

Molden came up with a pass breakup that turned into an interception in the fourth quarter. On the next drive he got home for a sack, and then blew up a screen. He ended up leading the team in tackles on the night, credited with six.

It’s early, but the Titans appear to have something here.

Bad night for Radunz

Second round pick Dillon Radunz really struggled after starting the game at right guard. He was blown up a couple of times early on while run blocking. He kicked out to right tackle to start the second quarter and was beaten on a key third down rep that resulted in a sack. Joe Tryon absolutely dominated this matchup on the edge.

Radunz had some good and bad moments last week, but tonight was rough.

Other notes

  • Mekhi Sargent impressed tonight, scoring the game’s first touchdown and running with toughness. He finished his night with 16 carries for 78 yards as he pushes for a spot on the running back depth chart. Brian Hill had 10 carries for 24 yards, while Jeremy McNichols handled five carries for -9 yards.
  • David Long was great once again tonight. He made plays as a blitzer, and also in coverage. It’s going to be tough to keep him off the field.
  • Chester Rodgers had a long kickoff return called back in the second quarter.
  • OT Paul Adams left the game in the first half with a wrist injury. He did not return.
  • Sam Ficken drilled a 58 yard field goal to end the first half. It was his second on the night, also connecting on a 48 yard attempt. Ficken likely won the kicking gig tonight.
  • Mason Kinsey had another good showing, hauling in eight catches for 56 yards and a score. He’s facing a numbers issue in the receiver battle, but he’s done nothing to hurt his chances. Tough choices ahead here for Jon Robinson.
  • Dez Fitzpatrick bounced back tonight with a 23 yard touchdown grab after getting behind the Bucs’ secondary. Fitzpatrick needed something positive tonight, and he found it. He now enters a crucial week ahead as he fights to make this roster.
  • In one of the stranger plays you’ll ever see, Briean Boddy-Calhoun ended up with a fumble recovery and a defensive touchdown. The secondary was impressive across the board tonight, coming away with turnover after turnover.

The Titans have one more preseason game remaining — next Saturday at home against the Bears. Kickoff is set for Saturday night at 6 p.m. CT.