Well, that’s that.
It was a fourth preseason game. The rain descended on LP Field before the contest began, scrubbing away any chance the Titans’ first-stringers would play. The second-string defense made sure the first-teamers didn’t feel left out, though, repeating what they’d done the previous three games by allowing the Vikings to take their first possession of the game for a touchdown. The Vikings would not reach the end zone again, but there was less else positive to be said about the defensive performance in what was overall a desultory game. I haven’t run the numbers yet, but the Vikings seemed content to keep the ball on the ground a lot and had enough success that was sufficient for fourth preseason game purposes. I’ve thought the Titans have had relatively good depth-their problem isn’t players 15-40 but 1-15 and 40-53-but the performance of the second-team line against Minnesota’s second-teamers made me question that a bit. Karl Klug is still a better pass rusher than your second-team offensive linemen are pass blockers, though.
The offense did little of note until late, when I’d gotten bored enough with the game I wasn’t paying much attention. Zach Mettenberger got the start and led the Titans to field goal and borderline field goal territory with his usual downfield passing, including a pair of completions to Justin Hunter. He took three sacks on his twenty dropbacks, one another strip sack when he didn’t pull the trigger quite quickly enough, one on third down that shut down a theretofore desultory two minute drill featuring short passes at the end of the first half, and the other on fourth down at the edge of field goal range; yes, the line played a role in all three sacks. Antonio Andrews and Bishop Sankey both had some decent runs, as the backup offensive linemen looked pretty solid at times.
In the quest for roster spots, a couple players stood out. Tommie Campbell had a couple penalties, one a personal foul that was apparently followed by a heated sideline conversation with Bernard Pollard; I would say he didn’t help his case for more playing time outside of special teams tonight. Travis Coons did not get into the game; Maikon Bonani missed one of those field goals you never want to miss (32 yards) and hit another of the same stripe (29), but got touchbacks on both his kickoffs. With Leon Washington and Dexter McCluster both idle, Marc Mariani was the return man. Both Vikings punts went for touchbacks, as did four of their six kickoffs. He handled the other two respectably. Neither he nor any other receiver stood out to me, though as I said my attention flagged and I could easily have missed subtler signs of performance both good and ill. Akeem Ayers played late into the second half, but that just seemed like the normal rotation, where he’s been playing with third-string LOLB Brandon Copeland.
No injuries for Tennessee, at least that I saw during the game or reported afterward. Chris Spencer returned to action, which was a good sign, and I’m not worried if he didn’t have a good game.
Cuts to 53 begin anon. It will be very, very interesting to see how those go. I’ll be covering those through Friday and Saturday as they happen.