The Tennessee Titans will open their 2023 regular-season campaign against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. The Titans will be debuting a new-look offense under offensive coordinator Tim Kelly. Both teams have key players that will help determine the outcome. We’ve identified three key matchups.
ARDEN KEY, HAROLD LANDRY VS. TREVOR PENNING
The Saints’ sophomore left tackle struggled as a rookie. Trevor Penning only earned 58 snaps at left tackle in 2022. Injuries and inconsistent performances prevented Penning from meeting his pre-draft expectations. The small schooler struggled in limited action, earning a pass-blocking grade of 38.7 from Pro Football Focus. It was a “welcome to the NFL” season for Penning.
Penning’s offseason development will immediately be tested. The former Northern Iowa standout will face matchups with Harold Landry and Arden Key. The Titans also occasionally play Denico Autry on the edge opposite the left tackle. The Titans have a gauntlet of pass rushers. Penning could be in for a long afternoon.
DEANDRE HOPKINS VS. MARSHON LATTIMORE, ALONTAE TAYLOR
The Titans signed DeAndre Hopkins to elevate a below-average wide receiver room. The Titans have been burned by a pair of 30-year-old receivers (Julio Jones and Robert Woods) in back-to-back seasons. The matchup against the Saints is an excellent litmus test for Hopkins’ effectiveness.
When Hopkins plays the boundary, he’ll see plenty of four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Marshon Lattimore. The Titans may move Hopkins around their formation in search of more favorable matchups. Placing Hopkins in the slot would pit him up against second-year cornerback Alontae Taylor. Taylor enjoyed a strong rookie season, but the Titans should test his inexperience by forcing him to defend Hopkins one-versus-one.
ANDRE DILLARD, CHRIS HUBBARD VS. CAMERON JORDAN
The Titans have two new starting tackles in Andre Dillard and Chris Hubbard. Neither player is a home-run solution until proven otherwise. Both Dillard and Hubbard should fear the matchup with Saints veteran pass rusher Cameron Jordan.
The Saints recorded a fifth-ranked 48.0 sacks last season. Jordan led all Saints defenders in that category with 8.5 quarterback takedowns. Like Autry, Jordan is still an extremely dangerous pass rusher despite his advancing age. Poor tackle play helped derail the Titans’ 2022 offensive efforts. That’s why Dillard was signed to a three-year contract worth $30 million. The Titans will get a baseline idea on Dillard’s ability to slow down top-tier pass rushers.