Here are my quick thoughts from the Titans preseason opener against the Washington Redskins. It was great to have football back and I was satisfied for the most part over what I saw though you would love to walk away with the win.
On the offensive side of the ball, the offensive line I thought overall did well. The Titans sat David Stewart and Mike Otto got significant playing time in the first half. Mike Roos went out pretty early in the first half and Byron Stingily got some good playing time as well. Otto we have seen before and he is a solid player. We haven’t seen Stingily as much although he did play in 3 games in 2012. I spent some time watching Stingily tonight and I thought he was pretty solid. I would think you will see a lot more from him this preseason.
It was a mixed bag for rookie offensive guard Chance Warmack. He struggled a bit at first but I thought he settled in and played well down the stretch in the snaps he got. You can definitely see the talent particularly in the run game. Warmack is going to be fine he will learn a lot in these preseason games. You can expect some rookie growing pains but he is already an upgrade over what the Titans had previously.
Speaking of the running game, for the first preseason game I thought it looked quite good. Chris Johnson finished the night early after ripping off a 58 yard touchdown. CJ would finish the night with 2 carries for 60 yards and the touchdown. Shonn Greene did exactly what I thought he would and provided a nice compliment to CJ, adding a 17 yard touchdown run of his own. Of equal note, Green picked up some tough yards to convert a 4 and 1. Not to be outdone, Quinn Johnson added a touchdown of his own, scoring on a 9 yard pass from 3rd string quarterback Rusty Smith. Jalen Parmele and Jackie Battle were also out there running hard for some tough yardage. I wonder if they will give Parmele a shot in the return game in Cincinnati to see what he can do. The battle for the backend at running back is tight.
The passing game was nothing to write home about and featured some bad drops from Kendall Wright and Michael Preston. Kenny Britt made a tough catch but he also failed to go after a ball to make a catch he could easily have done. This is the stuff that maddens me about Britt. Justin Hunter had a nice catch but he inexplicably shuffled backwards and lost the first down. The rookie is definitely showing the missed time in OTAs. Preston did have a nice catch in the second half and picked up some key yards. Damian Williams made an outstanding catch in the 4th quarter in tight coverage knowing he was going to get tagged.
[UPDATE] I should mention Nate Washington and I feel badly for leaving him out initially. Washington has been the subject of trade talks but I seriously wonder whether that ever had any teeth. I always thought it would be a bad move and last night showed the reason. Washington made a great catch in the 2nd quarter to move the chains and get a first down. The savvy vet knows exactly where the line marker is located and does what he needs to do get the first down yardage. I will go on record saying that Washington will be a Titan in 2013.
The return game I thought overall was fine and what you might expect in a preseason game with Mariani, Reynaud and Wooten getting opportunities there. Brett Kern looked good punting and whoa does Maikon Bonani have a leg on him! Is Rob Bironas and his back a cause for concern?
Craig Stevens is such a smart player and the Titans are lucky to have him. The Titans were pretty vanilla and you didn’t see a lot from their tight ends. I think that might change in Cincinnati. I hope we get a good update on Delanie Walker and his status soon. I still think the Titans only carry 3 tight ends.
Finally, I have to say and it pains me to say it but the dropoff on the offensive line play in the second half is very troubling. Guys who needed good games were out there committing drive killing penalties and you just can’t do that. I know it’s the preseason but that cooks my goose more than anything. I hate with a passion stupid penalties.
The defense was a mixed bag as well. I will admit I am more impressed with Ropati Pitoitua than I thought I would be but I am utterly unconvinced he is better against the run than Kam Wimbley. Wimbley by the way shed a nice block tonight to tackle I believe it was Keiland Williams. Jurrell Casey is going to be a beast this year. Derrick Morgan looks great as well and he and Wimbley were all over the place tonight. Karl Klug had a fantastic night just playing in the Titans base defense, which is all they showed. Lavar Edwards also acquitted himself well and notched his first NFL sack and also a tackle for a loss. Nigel Nicholas had a bad roughing the passer penalty that negated a forced fumble caused by Khallid Wooten. Coty Sensabaugh had a really nice night as well.
Clearly Alterraun Verner had a better night than Tommie Campbell who made some nice plays but overall struggled. I still think it’s too early to call that battle but Campbell has to play better in Cincinnati. There is no other way to spin it. Between the two, I would say Tracy Wilson had the better night although it looked to me like Al Afalava got more playing time. Afalava left late in the 4th quarter with a slight limp heading to the locker room. I did think Markelle Martin made some nice plays out there tonight. Could a strong game against Cincinnati earn him a spot? He seems like a hard worker and it’s hard not to pull for him. Rookie cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson is coming along nicely too and I have talked about how much I like Khalid Wooten. The Titans played vanilla tonight and did not show much press coverage or any of their special packages.
Scott Solomon played linebacker a lot tonight and he is really having a strong offseason. I will be the first to admit I was down on him in 2012 but I love what I see now. He looks good. Tig Willard made a nice play tonight but I don’t see him beating out Greg Jones who looks good. It would shock me if Jones doesn’t make the squad. Moise Fokou is a solid replacement for Colin McCarthy who is out with a hammy. Can McCarthy reclaim his spot? Not if he doesn’t get on the field soon. Zach Brown and Akeem Ayers looked primed to have an outstanding 2013.
One final note is there were way too many missed tackles from guys who are trying to earn a spot. That’s another big gripe for me. Tackling is fundamental fellas.
Final score in case you missed it:
Washington 22 Titans 21