Highlight reel: Chiefs 34, Titans 10

For the second time this preseason, the Titans fell behind 17-0 at the start of the game. Unlike the opener at Atlanta, when turnovers had a lot to do with the Falcons’ early advantage, it was penalties and missed tackles that undermined the early effort in this one.

The starting offense, which played the entire first half, responded with 10 points before halftime but the second half belonged exclusively to the Kansas City reserves — right up until weather issues led to the game being called with 3:50 to play.

A closer look at some of the players and plays that made a difference:

 
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Kendall Wright, wide receiver

Quite frankly, there were not a lot of individual standouts. The fourth-year wide receiver was the one who finally got things going after the Chiefs had built their big lead. He caught three passes for 60 yards on Tennessee’s first scoring drive, a 10-play, 66-yard march that ended with a field goal.

That was enough to make him the Titans’ leader in receptions and receiving yards. It’s also worth noting that those three passes were the only ones thrown him way so it was a rather efficient performance.

Honorable mention: Perrish Cox, CB – The free agent intercepted a pass for the second straight game. He did not return this one for a touchdown but it did set up the offense’s only touchdown; Marcus Mariota, QB – For the first time this preseason, he showcased his running ability with 22 yards on three carries.

 
NOTABLE MOMENT

Charcandrick West’s four-yard run on third-and-1 that set up Kansas City’s second touchdown

With the ball at their own 39, the Chiefs decided to run left, which looked to be a bad decision. Linebacker Zach Brown got to West behind the line of scrimmage but failed to get him to the ground and the back managed to pick up four yards. The next play was a 34-yard reception by tight end Travis Kelce, which included two more missed tackles (Brown and Michael Griffin).

To be a good defense, you have to get off the field on third down and limit big plays. The best way to do both of those things is — you guessed it — tackle well. The Titans did not on those two plays — and a few others.

Honorable mention: Antonio Andrews’ 2-yard touchdown run – it was the only time the offense actually got into the end zone; Brown’s tackle of Knile Davis at the 2 after a 12-yard reception on third-and-goal from the 14 – the linebacker made two stops in three plays during a goal-to-go situation when the Titans actually forced a field goal attempt.

 
THEY SAID IT

• “They are a spacing offense, they have a lot of different combinations and when you don’t get a chance to really prepare against them, you can make some mistakes. That doesn’t forgive us for not tackling. We had a couple of times where we could have made some plays but we didn’t tackle guys. So that was disappointing.” – coach Ken Whisenhunt on the tackling issues.

• “There was three minutes left, the officials asked us to leave the field and then they contacted New York. Where the game was, it didn’t make any sense to go back out there.” – Whisenhunt on why the game was called.

• “They are just a good defense. They came out fast and the intensity was high. I think if we put together a couple more plays and got a first down on the first series, it would have been different. But again, they are a good defense.” – Mariota on the slow start.

• “It's too early to start panicking.  We have this next preseason game coming up Thursday and then the start of the season. We just need to work on the things we need to work on and fix the things we need to fix.” – Griffin on the state of the team.

 
THE BOTTOM LINE

Just as was the case following Sunday’s victory over St. Louis, it’s important to remember that this was a preseason game so it does not necessarily paint a clear picture of what is to come.

For example, the Chiefs’ previous game was last Friday, which means they had two extra days of rest and preparation. No doubt, that was a factor in how things unfolded.

Perhaps the most important thing that has happened through the first three games has been Mariota’s consistent accuracy, regardless of the situation. He was 7-for-11 for 99 yards passing in this one and for the third time in as many games had a stretch of seven completions in eight attempts. He also did not commit a turnover for the second straight game (although Kansas City’s defense did have one prime opportunity for an interception).

Overall, the Titans have been underwhelming in the preseason. However, the plan since May has been to build around Mariota and he continues to look like a solid foundation piece.

 
(Photo: Getty Images)

Aug 29, 2015 8:09 AM

Titans look to build on early success of offensive line shuffle

After a disappointing season, changes are expected.

In the case of the Tennessee Titans those changes start with the offensive line. 

Last season the Titans ranked 26th in NFL in rushing offense at 90.4 yards per game. The offensive line also allowed 50 sacks and 94 quarterback hits, which ranked 27th and 24th, respectively.

Needless to say, much offseason attention has been paid to making things better up front.

“I think we took a step in the right direction in this game,” center Brian Schwenke said Sunday after the Titans preseason victory over the Rams. “You know we had a slow start in Atlanta and I think it was a nice little wake up call. We’ve been doing well in practice but we just didn't put it into the game and I think we showed a little bit more this game.”

Andy Levitre was pushed to the second team in favor of Byron Bell who started at left guard. Rookie Jeremiah Poutasi (pictured) stepped into the starting role at right tackle.

“We wanted to come out and establish the run game,” Bell said. “For the most part and I think that helped with the play action pass and getting the ball downfield to a couple of guys. I think we ran the ball very well.”

The line shuffle appears to have paid off as running back Bishop Sankey, who was held to just 1.9 yards per carry in the preseason opener against Atlanta, averaged 7.5 yards per carry against St. Louis. In addition to the improved run game the Titans offense outgained the Rams 100-28 in the first quarter.

“That’s what you want to build your confidence, its nice to see your running back you know 10 yards down the field,” Bell said. “We’ve got to build on that and we want to run the ball. If we don't run the ball we don't move down the field.”

Bell, a free agent, was a starter at tackle in four years with Carolina Panthers and entered training camp as the leading candidate to be the Titans’ third different right tackle in as many seasons. He’s now at guard and Poutasi, a third-round pick this year and – at 21 years old – one of the youngest players in the league, is in line to start on the line.

“It introduces a new aspect to the play, you’ve got to work with new guys and create chemistry with those new guys,” Schwenke said. “(Sunday) was our first game together and I felt like we communicated well and went out there and played our butts off.”

Their next opportunity is Friday at Kansas City (7 p.m., WKRN-TV Ch. 2).

(Photo: Getty Images)

Aug 28, 2015 1:03 PM

Titans, Michael Roos reach workers' compensation settlement

Michael Roos played early and often for the Tennessee Titans.

Drafted in the second round (41st overall) in 2005, the tackle out of Eastern Washington was an immediate starter who did not miss a game during his first seven seasons and sat out just once in the first nine.

He also played hurt.

A workers’ compensation claim settled this week in Davidson County Circuit Court included details of 28 injuries sustained during a 10-year career that ended in February when the 6-foot-7, 313-pound tackle announced his retirement. An examination two months later by a doctor chosen by Roos’ attorney deemed many of the injuries “minor” and were “resolved with varying periods of treatment received at the hands of team orthopaedic [sic] surgeon at athletic trainers,” according to court documents.

Roos and the Titans negotiated a lump sum payment of $76,633.70 with the acknowledgment that some of the former player’s injuries might require further attention for which the team “agreed to provide reasonable and necessary medical treatment.”

Although a knee injury ended Roos’ 2014 season after just five games, the Titans maintained that his “marketable talents, skills and physical abilities were not diminished by the subject injuries” and that his retirement was “voluntary.”

The rundown of injuries Roos sustained during his NFL career:

• Right clavicle and shoulder, May 26, 2005

• Right hand and right long finger, August 2, 2005

• Left hip, August 26, 2005

• Right arm and hand, October 24, 2005

• Left hand and finger, October 30, 2005

• Left leg and ankle, December 11, 2005

• Right leg and ankle, September 24, 2007

• Left leg and ankle, December 9, 2007

• Right leg and ankle, January 6, 2008

• Right arm and elbow, August 15, 2008

• Left foot, November 23, 2008

• Left leg, September 27, 2009

• Back, November 11, 2009

• Right arm and elbow, August 9, 2010

• Right leg and knee, August 28, 2010

• Left leg and ankle, October 10, 2010

• Back, October 28, 2010

• Back, August 2, 2011

• Neck and brachial plexus compression, November 13, 2011

• Left leg, thigh and groin, November 20, 2011

• Right leg and thigh, December 18, 2011

• Left leg and knee, July 29, 2012

• Chest and ribs, November 25, 2012

• Right leg and knee, December 2, 2012

• Back, May 30, 2013

• Chest, December 29, 2013

• Neck, August 23, 2014

• Right leg and knee, October 5, 2014

Aug 28, 2015 12:48 PM

Titans still not a first-rate attraction on secondary market

Halfway through the preseason the Tennessee Titans remain a tough sell.

Vivid Seats, a secondary ticket outlet, released an analysis this week of current prices for each NFL team on the resale market. The Titans, even with high-profile rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota, are among the most affordable option at home and on the road.

The mean ticket price for 2015 Titans home games is $104. Only Kansas City ($102) is cheaper.

CHEAP SEATS
A look at the lowest mean home game NFL ticket resale prices for the 2015 season (source: Vivid Seats):

Kansas City -- $102
Tennessee -- $104
Indianapolis -- $113
Cincinnati -- $113
St. Louis -- $116

At the very least, it seems people have not adopted a wait-and-see stance with the 2015 Titans. Based on the median price for each of this season’s eight home games, fans are eager to get a first look.

The most popular ticket on the secondary market is the first home game, Sept. 27 against Indianapolis, which has a median price of $167, more than twice that of the Dec. 6 game against Jacksonville ($81). The cheapest seats for the Colts game are $68. The cheapest of the cheap right now is the final home game, Dec. 27 against Houston, for which seats are available for as little as $17.

The game-by-game breakdown of mean ticket resale prices for each of the Titans’ eight 2015 home games:

OpponentDateGet-In PriceMedian Price
Indianapolis Colts9/27/15$68$167
Buffalo Bills10/11/15$53$148
Miami Dolphins10/18/15$50$155
Atlanta Falcons10/25/15$41$121
Carolina Panthers11/15/15$35$120
Oakland Raiders11/29/15$34$118
Jacksonville Jaguars12/6/15$18$81
Houston Texans12/27/15$17$100

When it comes to road games, the Titans are one of 18 teams that causes a drop in their opponent’s mean ticket prices. The mean ticket price games on the road is 13 percent less than the norm for Tennessee’s opponents.

Jacksonville (minus 26 percent), Tampa Bay (minus 24 percent), St. Louis (minus 23 percent) and Houston (minus 20 percent) are among those that are a greater drag on the resale value of tickets.
 

Aug 28, 2015 11:31 AM

Mariota looks comfortable enough in the pocket not to run from it

Marcus Mariota showed in college that he is fleet of foot.

In limited NFL action (preseason action at that) he has made it clear he is willing to stand his ground.

Through the first two weeks of the preseason the second overall pick in the 2015 draft has the worst rushing stats (minus-5 yards on two carries) among rookie quarterbacks that have run at least once.

It should be noted, though, that on the first of those ‘attempts,’ in the opener at Atlanta, he was in the pocket about to pass when he the ball was knocked from his hand. The Falcons defense recovered and the rookie quarterback was credited with a rush for minus-6 yards.

“There are going to be times when you want him to pull it down and run, and that’s going to happen naturally,” Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “I think he’s very gifted in that department.

“If I had my druthers, would much rather see him stay in the pocket right now and work on those kind of things, knowing he’s got a tremendous body of work of pulling it down and running with it.”

GET UP AND GO
A look at the rushing statistics of NFL rookie quarterbacks through the first two weeks of preseason games:

Jameill Showers, Dallas – 4-37 0 TD (passing: 13-28-1 120 1 TD)
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay – 5-19 2 TD (passing: 17-32-1 221 0 TD)
Cody Fajardo, Oakland – 5 -17 0 TD (passing: 2-6-1 20 0 TD)
Bryan Bennett, Indianapolis – 5-15 0 TD (passing: 5-23-2 52 0 TD)
Garrett Grayson, New Orleans – 3-15 0 TD (passing: 15-25-0 167 0 TD)
Phillip Sims, Arizona – 2-8 0 TD (passing: 11-25-0 131 1 TD)
Dylan Thompson, San Francisco – 2-2 0 TD (passing: 7-12-1 52 0 TD)
Bryce Petty, N.Y. Jets – 2-1 0 TD (passing: 22-37-0 218 1 TD)
Taylor Heinicke, Minnesota – 6-minus-2 0 TD (passing: 19-30-1 154 0 TD)
Marcus Mariota, Tennessee – 2-minus-5 0 TD (passing: 12-16-1 153 0 TD)
Jake Heaps, N.Y. Jets – 2-minus-3 0 TD (0-1-0 0 0 TD)

The 2014 Heisman Trophy winner rushed for more than 700 yards in each of his three seasons as Oregon’s starting quarterback and scored 29 rushing touchdowns, 15 of them last season.

Yet the only time Mariota actually ran with the ball this preseason was Sunday against St. Louis when he scrambled for one yard on a second-and-8 play late in the first quarter.

The play that followed is what currently ranks as the signature moment regarding his comfort level in the pocket. On third-and-7 from the Rams’ 9-yard line, he dropped to throw against a defense that featured just three rushers and eight defending the pass.

He stayed in the pocket much longer than normal, surveyed the field from one side to the other and finally found running back Dexter McCluster open in the end zone. McCluster dropped the pass and the Titans had to settle for three points – but Mariota proved a major point.

“Well I think there were a lot of questions about his ability to do that coming out, so from that standpoint I think he’s done a good job of answering that he can do that,” Whisenhunt said this week. “But you know, I couch that with saying he hasn’t done it in a regular season game yet.”

(Photo: Getty Images)

 

Aug 27, 2015 2:39 PM

Coffman seizes opportunity with Titans, hopes to catch on anywhere

Playing at perhaps the most crowded position on the Titans roster, Chase Coffman has managed to become a preseason standout for Tennessee.

Through two preseason games he is the Titans leading receiver with six receptions for 117 yards and two touchdowns.

He faces competition from veterans Delanie Walker, Anthony Fasano and Craig Stevens and two others, Philip Supernaw, and Tevin Westbrook, at a position where typically three players make the final roster. His two touchdown receptions against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday at Nissan Stadium (one more than the rest of the team combined this preseason) certainly helped his case.

“It’s a blessing to get the opportunity to play on a big stage,” Coffman said. “Whenever the opportunity comes you have to make those count.

“We have a good tight end group. It is a tough league and you have to make the opportunities count when they come to you and it has been a blessing to get those opportunities.”

Walker, last season’s starter, has been sidelined with a thumb injury, which opened the door for others to get more playing time in the first two games. A third-round pick by Cincinnati in 2009 who has played for three different teams in a five-year NFL career, Coffman played more snaps in the preseason opener at Atlanta (24) and then did more with less against the Rams.

GETTING A LOOK
A breakdown of the number of snaps each of the Tennessee Titans tight ends played through the first to preseason games:

Player at Atl.-vs. Stl. – Total
Phillip Supernaw 23-28 – 51
Tevin Westbrook 23-15 – 38
Chase Coffman 24-11 – 35
Anthony Fasano 17-15 – 32
Craig Stevens 9-16 – 25

“Even though it's the preseason you can still get confidence off of this and just keep going,” Coffman said. “It's a blessing to just be in the position to get those throws and have those right plays in the right coverage at the right time. It’s just a blessing.”

Coach Ken Whisenhunt has said this week that Walker, who has been held out of games because of a cut to his hand that required 12 stitches, will play Friday at Kansas City (7 p.m., WKRN-TV, Ch. 2).

He also said following the victory over the Rams that whether or not Coffman makes the team would hinge on his blocking and his special teams contributions rather than his obvious ability to catch. He caught six passes for 107 yards and a touchdown last preseason and was released at the end of training camp.

“We are deep at that position and that’s a good place to be deep because it’s hard to find those guys,” Whisenhunt said. “(Coffman) has done a nice job in camp and we’ll get a chance to see him do more things. Obviously, he’s got to be able to help us with the blocking and contribute in special teams.”

Whether or not he makes the Titans roster, Coffman knows this preseason is his chance to showcase what he can bring to a team – any team.

“It’s not just an audition for the one team you are with, but the 31 other teams out there,” he said. “I really like this organization and this team, so I’d really like to be here. So we’ll see.”

(Photo: Getty Images)

Aug 26, 2015 12:21 PM

Oddsmaker sees Titans as longest of long shots to make playoffs

Oddsmakers are not impressed with what they have seen from the Tennessee Titans thus far.

Halfway through the preseason, the Titans are now the team least likely to make the playoffs, according to updated numbers from Bovada.lv.

They are a 10/1 shot, which is slightly longer than Oakland (9/1), Jacksonville (8/1) and Washington (7/1). Odds that they miss the playoffs are 1/25, which means if someone bets $2,500 that Tennessee misses out on the postseason again and it happens, that person wins $100.

Seattle and Indianapolis are most likely to make the playoffs, according to Bovada.

The complete rundown of NFL playoff odds:

Playoff Odds (in order of most likely to least likely to make the playoffs)

 

Will the New England Patriots make the playoffs?       

***Currently off the board

 

Will the Seattle Seahawks make the playoffs? 

Yes                  -800     (1/8)

No                    +500     (5/1)

 

Will the Indianapolis Colts make the playoffs?

Yes                  -600     (1/6)

No                    +400     (4/1)

 

Will the Green Bay Packers make the playoffs?           

Yes                  -550     (2/11)

No                    +375     (15/4)

 

Will the Denver Broncos make the playoffs?   

Yes                  -300     (1/3)

No                    +240     (12/5)

 

Will the Dallas Cowboys make the playoffs?   

Yes                  -175     (4/7)

No                    +145     (29/20)

 

Will the Philadelphia Eagles make the playoffs?         

Yes                  -150     (2/3)

No                    +120     (6/5)

 

Will the Baltimore Ravens make the playoffs? 

Yes                  -130     (10/13)

No                    EVEN  (1/1)

 

Will the Pittsburgh Steelers make the playoffs?          

Yes                  -130      (10/13)

No                    EVEN  (1/1)

 

Will the Cincinnati Bengals make the playoffs?           

Yes                  EVEN   (1/1)

No                    -130     (10/13)

 

Will the Kansas City Chiefs make the playoffs?           

Yes                  +120     (6/5)

No                    -150     (2/3)

 

Will the Miami Dolphins make the playoffs?    

Yes                  +120     (6/5)

No                    -150     (2/3)

 

Will the New Orleans Saints make the playoffs?          

Yes                  +130     (13/10)

No                    -160     (5/8)

 

Will the Atlanta Falcons make the playoffs?    

Yes                  +135     (27/20)

No                    -165     (20/33)

 

Will the Arizona Cardinals make the playoffs?

Yes                  +145     (29/20)

No                    -175     (4/7)

 

Will the Carolina Panthers make the playoffs?

Yes                  +145     (29/20)

No                    -175     (4/7)

 

Will the Houston Texans make the playoffs?   

Yes                  +150     (3/2)

No                    -180     (5/9)

 

Will the Detroit Lions make the playoffs?        

Yes                  +155     (31/20)

No                    -190     (10/19)

 

Will the San Diego Chargers make the playoffs?         

Yes                  +160     (8/5)

No                    -200     (1/2)

 

Will the Buffalo Bills make the playoffs?         

Yes                  +175     (7/4)

No                    -215     (20/43)

 

Will the New York Giants make the playoffs?  

Yes                  +175     (7/4)

No                    -215     (20/43)

 

Will the Minnesota Vikings make the playoffs?

Yes                  +225     (9/4)

No                    -285     (20/57)

 

Will the St. Louis Rams make the playoffs?    

Yes                  +250     (5/2)

No                    -325     (4/13)

 

Will the New York Jets make the playoffs?      

Yes                  +350     (7/2)

No                    -500     (1/5)

 

Will the San Francisco 49ers make the playoffs?         

Yes                  +400     (4/1)

No                    -600     (1/6)

 

Will the Chicago Bears make the playoffs?      

Yes                  +500     (5/1)

No                    -800     (1/8)

 

Will the Cleveland Browns make the playoffs?

Yes                  +500     (5/1)

No                    -800     (1/8)

 

Will the Tampa Bay Buccaneers make the playoffs?    

Yes                  +500     (5/1)

No                    -800     (1/8)

 

Will the Washington Redskins make the playoffs?      

Yes                  +700     (7/1)

No                    -1400   (1/14)

 

Will the Jacksonville Jaguars make the playoffs?        

Yes                  +800     (8/1)

No                    -1600    (1/16)

 

Will the Oakland Raiders make the playoffs?   

Yes                  +900     (9/1)

No                    -2000    (1/20)

 

Will the Tennessee Titans make the playoffs? 

Yes                  +1000   (10/1)

No                    -2500   (1/25)

Aug 26, 2015 12:14 PM

Mariota stayed calm, productive when things went silent

It’s easy to see how an inability to hear could be troubling to a rookie quarterback.

Marcus Mariota simply felt like a kid again.

The Tennessee Titans’ coach-to-quarterback communication system failed for a time early in Sunday’s preseason game against the St. Louis Rams at Nissan Stadium. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said it probably cost the offense some yards but did not the team did not burn a timeout or take a delay of game penalty as a result.

“Yeah, after the first two plays, it kind of went out and had to revert to Pop Warner,” Mariota said. “Just running over to the coach, getting the play and running back to the huddle. It worked fine after that. It’s one of those things that happens and you just have to kind of work through it.”

That opening possession, one of three the second overall pick in this year’s draft led, covered 44 yards and included three first downs before the Titans punted. The majority of plays were runs but the drive might have gone even longer had Kendall Wright not allowed a third-down pass to hit him in chest and bounce off.

Mariota finished 5-for-8 for 59 yards. Running back Dexter McCluster dropped a certain touchdown pass when the quarterback found him open in the end zone.

“I didn’t like the drops,” Whisenhunt said. “We had two drops when (Mariota) was in there that one of them obviously would’ve been a touchdown, another one would’ve been a first down.”

Yet the second-year coach couldn’t have been happier with how things went when the communications system temporarily dropped out.

“In those type of situations a lot of time young quarterbacks will panic, but he didn’t,” Whisenhunt said. “We had a couple of miscues, but that led to a couple of situations that put us in long yardage deals on those first drives. He still made some plays and handled himself well.

“It was actually something that you don’t plan, but it was good to see him respond.”

(Photo: Getty Images)

Aug 24, 2015 8:29 AM

Titans finally concede Nissan Stadium sellout streak is over

It’s officially over.

The sellout streak that started when the Tennessee Titans moved into Nissan Stadium (formerly: The Coliseum, Adelphia Coliseum and LP Field) in 1999 officially ended with Sunday’s 27-14 preseason victory against the St. Louis Rams.

The Titans announced 61,548 “tickets distributed,” which was roughly 8,000 shy of a sellout. Unquestionably, even fewer than that were on hand to watch rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota and his teammates in the first of two home preseason games this year but no actual attendance was announced.

“It was definitely a big showing, for sure,” second-year tackle Taylor Lewan said. “It’s just great to have the fans’ support. It has a lot to do with (Mariota) but it’s good.”

There have been numerous occasions (particularly last season) when the home team played to well short of a full house. In recent years that purported continuation of the streak prompted increasing sarcasm from the fan base and even a couple of investigative reports by a local television station.

The team recently admitted that its claim of 164 straight sellouts did not square with related tax payments it made to the city, an error it since has corrected.

“It was a great atmosphere (Sunday) night in our stadium, seeing all the fans in there,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “It was good to get a win at home. I think that was important for us.”

Tennessee was 1-7 at home in 2014.

This year’s regular season home opener is Sept. 27 against Indianapolis.

Aug 24, 2015 5:25 AM

Highlight reel: Titans 27, Rams 14

There was a lot more good than bad in the Tennessee Titans’ 27-14 preseason victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday, which made it a welcome change from a lot of other recent Titans’ contest.

A closer look at some of the players and plays that made a difference:

 
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Bishop Sankey, running back

After an underwhelming performance in the preseason opener at Atlanta (eight carries, 15 yards), last year’s second round draft pick looked like a completely different player. He ran for 18 yards on the Titans’ second play from scrimmage, added a 19-yard run on the second possession and finished the night with 45 yards on six carries.

Sankey (pictured) was the Titans’ leading rusher last season and he only topped 45 yards rushing in seven games, none after Nov. 9.

For someone who has started to feel the heat from Antonio Andrews and rookie David Cobb, this was a noteworthy effort.

Honorable mentions: Byron Bell, LG – he started in place of Andy Levitre and the offensive line simply looked better; Chase Coffman, TE – He caught just two passes, both for touchdowns and a team-high 59 receiving yards; Yawin Smallwood, LB – He’s a longshot to make the roster but he had the game’s only sack in addition to two tackles and a pass defensed.

 
NOTABLE MOMENT
Perrish Cox 24-yard interception return for a touchdown

Tennessee’s offense got the ball first and _ after some initial promise — settled for a punt. On the Rams’ fourth offensive play, the free agent cornerback stepped in front of a pass intended for former Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt and went untouched to the end zone for a 7-0 lead.

The defense did not have one preseason interception in 2014 and had not scored a preseason touchdown on an interception return since linebacker Colin McCarthy in 2012.

Throughout offseason workouts, Cox looked like the sort of playmaker the defense desperately needs. Now he’s done it in the preseason. All that remains is to show he can do it in the regular season.

Honorable mention: Zach Mettenberger’s three-yard touchdown pass to Chase Coffman – a confident, accurate throw on a short field into a small window; Marcus Mariota on the opening drive – his communication device went out but the team did not need to burn a timeout or take a delay of game penalty.

 
THEY SAID IT

“We ran the ball fairly effectively. We had a lot of things going on – we had some misdirection that worked pretty good. So I think we kept a pretty good defense off balance. I thought we protected pretty well too. Until you really see the tape and get a chance to evaluate it you don’t know. But I’m certainly encouraged.” – coach Ken Whisenhunt on the play of the shuffled starting offensive line.

"I guess first and foremost I have to extend my appreciation to the entire Titans organization honoring me like they did. It was moving. I heard about it this week but didn’t know it was going to be to that extent so I appreciate their approach and their generosity." -- Rams coach Jeff Fisher, on the first-quarter video tribute to him.

"We get better each and every week. Everyone played great today and we need to continue to build on this. Last year, was a bad taste in our mouth, to go 2-14. It was a long season. That’s just one thing here that nobody wants to experience, ever again." -- Titans safety Michael Griffin, on the optimism coming out of this game.

 
THE BOTTOM LINE

It’s just a preseason game. That is true and it guarantees nothing.

For the first time in nearly a year, though, it seemed reasonable to develop some positive feelings about this team. There was Mariota’s poise in the pocket, the reshuffled offensive line that looked like it actually opened holes, a defense that held Rams starting quarterback Nick Foles to 18 yards on seven pass attempts, the fact that Tennessee scored the first 20 points and so on.

Yes, it’s not certain that any of it will show up in the regular season but there certainly were far too little of those sorts of things last regular season. So this night is the equivalent of a farmer dealing with a drought who looks up and sees rain clouds in the distance.  At least there’s some hope.

 
(Photo: Getty Images)

Aug 24, 2015 5:20 AM