The Tennessee Titans play their second preseason game of 2012 tonight in Tampa against the Buccaneers. The game kicks off at 6:30 PM CT and will air on the Titans and Bucs local preseason affiliates.
Since it’s the second preseason game, the Titans may have some idea of what the Bucs will try to do this game, but once again this game is much more about watching the Titans and what they do than what the Titans do against the Bucs. Gameplanning will be slight, so focus on what Titans players do.
Here are the things I’ll be focusing my attention on this game:
- Jake Locker’s first start. It’s a QB competition, and Locker getting the starter after Hasselbeck started last week is exactly what you would expect. This will be his first game as an NFL starter and his first time playing early in the game, without a chance to get an idea what the defense is doing. Is he able to make plays? Is he on the same page with receivers? Does the team line up right and like last week avoid procedure penalties? Does he still throw fastballs on short passes?
- Chris Johnson. The Bucs were one of the opponents CJ had some notable successes against last year. Can he replicate that? Does he run aggressively and attack holes? Can either fullback actually make a good block?
- Wide receivers. I think there’s still a job available for somebody for at least a couple weeks, and the pay difference between four weeks on the roster and four weeks on the practice squad is significant. Also, who gets Jake Locker’s targets? He’s been apparently throwing to Damian Williams a lot in camp, but Williams has struggled to put up good numbers ing ames. Is he on the same page with Nate Washington, the only healthy receiver on the team I really trust?
- Pass rush. The Titans had two sacks last week, one about 3.9 seconds and the other 5.1 seconds. Those are both pretty long sacks. Yes, Seattle did things to minimize the number of sacks they took, but I want to see Titans rushers beat blockers one-on-one quickly.
- Robert Johnson. The third-year safety has had a pretty quiet career thus far, but he was one of the first substitutes to enter the game last week. Will he be the guy in the Ruby package again? What’s his role on the team?
- No injuries. The Titans stayed healthy last week. I want to see that continue.
I won’t see the game until it reairs on NFL Network Sunday morning at 9 AM CT, but we’ll have a recap up and I’ll do some in-depth postgame analysis over the next couple days.
UPDATE (8/17/12 5:35 PM CT): The Titans announced CB Terrence Wheatley, TE Brandon Barden, LB Gerald McRath, OT Mike Otto, DE Dave Ball, and newly-signed OL Jonathan Palmer will not play tonight. Ball, Barden, and Wheatley all missed last week’s game as well. Markelle Martin and Kenny Britt remain on the Physically Unable to Perform list and cannot play.