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VOL. 42 | NO. 33 | Friday, August 17, 2018

Buccaneers at Titans: What to watch

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Buccaneers at Titans

Saturday, August 18, 7 p.m.

TV: WKRN

Radio: 104.5 FM

OK we get it. It’s preseason. Sometime in the second half of the Titans game Saturday night with Tampa Bay, even the most diehard of football fans will look on the field and wonder, who are these guys?

But despite its deserved bad rap for being hard to watch, preseason football still offers some things worth looking out for as the Titans evaluate personnel and try to hone the offense and defense to get ready for the 2018 season.

So, here is our preseason version of a few things to watch for against the Bucs.

Is the offense progressing?

Marcus Mariota and the first unit (or some of it at least) looked good in their only series against the Packers. The plan in preseason game No. 2 is usually to get about a half of work in for the first team.

In practice, there have been good days and bad for the offense, as the timing has been off and a number of passes have been picked off as well. Work is needed.

Matt LaFleur’s offense can be somewhat complex in terms of execution, but once mastered it is also very production friendly. Mariota will need time and repetition to become comfortable with it.

Check the pecking order

When evaluating personnel – and especially those on the roster bubble – when they play is nearly as important as how they play.

An undrafted rookie might dazzle in the fourth quarter of a game while playing against third-teamers. It then bears watching if that same undrafted rookie impresses the coaching staff enough to get reps earlier in the game against better competition.

Otherwise, don’t get too excited about it. If the same sort of production does continue against better players, then the conversation about earning a roster spot begin to pick up.

It’s not the easiest way to earn a spot, but it can be done. From back in the day, think Drew Bennett, Billy Volek, Dave Ball, Darius Reynaud and John Simon.

Improvement in the secondary

The Titans secondary was supposed to be a team strength, and it still might be this season. But it was a bit disappointing in Green Bay. Now, how will the unit do against the Bucs?

There have been injuries, Johnathan Cyprien and Tye Smith lost for the season, Dane Cruikshank out indefinitely with a shoulder injury. Kenny Vaccaro is still learning as Cyprien’s replacement. This unit still has some work to do to live up to its considerable preseason billing.

-- Terry McCormick

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