Somewhat lost in the Will Levis hoopla was that Tennessee Titans sophomore offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere made his first career start at left tackle in Sunday’s victory over the Atlanta Falcons. The Titans formally benched struggling tackle Andre Dillard. Petit-Frere took over as the primary left tackle.
Petit-Frere played a total of 31 snaps at left tackle. Following an injury to right tackle Chris Hubbard, the Titans shifted Petit-Frere to his regular right tackle position, and inserted Dillard back into the lineup at left tackle. Petit-Frere played 37 additional snaps on the right, bringing his Sunday snap-count total to 68.
#Titans RT Chris Hubbard was down but he's now walking off the field. Nicholas Petit-Frere goes from LT to RT and Andre Dillard comes in at LT.— TURRON DAVENPORT (@TDavenport_NFL) October 29, 2023
Pro Football Focus credited Petit-Frere with 32 true pass-blocking sets and 35 run-blocking snaps. Petit-Frere earned a pass-protection grade of 61.9, which was significantly better than the horrific 17.4 he earned in spot duty against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 6. Petit-Frere was credited with allowing four pressures, three hits, one hurry, and zero sacks. Petit-Frere’s Pass Blocking Efficiency score was 87.5. The eye test also suggested Petit-Frere played a quality game.
The Titans will likely to have keep the shift going against the Pittsburgh Steelers this Thursday. The injured Hubbard was being evaluated for a concussion. The short turnaround makes Hubbard extremely unlikely to clear concussion protocol prior to Thursday. That likely means Petit-Frere will start at right tackle with Dillard on the left.
The challenge versus the Steelers will be monumental, significantly larger than the one Atlanta posed due to their lack of talent on the edges. Pass rushers like T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith will relish their opportunities to compete against Petit-Frere and Dillard on a snap-by-snap basis. The Titans must continue protecting Levis at a successful rate if the rookie quarterback is to sustain the success he experienced on Sunday.
Petit-Frere managing to string together consistent performances despite being asked to switch positions is key to Thursday’s success.