By Ron Wynn
NASHVILLE, TN — As they prepare for their home preseason opener Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Titans are looking for improvement in a number of areas. No one is really taking their opening 23-10 preseason loss to the Baltimore Ravens that seriously other than Baltimore, which has now won 21 straight preseason games and obviously approaches them a lot differently than anyone else. In a game where the Titans didn’t play most of their starters and none of their key offensive members, it was a night where the focus was on key backups and rookies trying to make a good impression. The best player in that regard was QB Malik Willis, who had mostly a good night, and two highlight plays.
One was a 48-yard completion to Racey McMath. The second and more important was his scramble for a seven-yard touchdown. He later had another one of 17 yards. The negative aspects included two sacks. but the offensive line’s performance wasn’t exactly stellar either. Head coach Mike Vrabel said afterwards that overall Willis looked good, but that there were a few situations where he thought Willis should have attempted passes rather than scramble for yardage on his own. Willis completed six of 11 passes for 107 yards and added 38 on five carries. He also was guilty of holding on to the ball when he could have thrown it away. But he had a better game than His competition for the backup spot Logan Woodside. Woodside threw two interceptions and gained fewer passing yards (102) despite throwing 13 more passes. Among the running backs Julius Chestnut had seven carries for 44 yards including a 29-yarder. Chestnut also had a 12-yard reception. the down side was a costly early fumble.
Defensively, outside linebacker David Anenih had four tackles, a pair of sacks and forced a fumble in a standout performance. The defense kept the Ravens out of the end zone in the second half after surrendering two first half touchdowns. Jack Gibbens led the defense with eight tackles. Along with his 48 yard reception, wide receiver McBath had a 30 yard kick return.
How much QB Ryan Tannehill and running back Derrick Henry will play against Tampa Bay in the second preseason game is a question, as well as whether wide receiver Robert Woods will see any action. First round draft choice Treylon Burks did play some snaps against the Ravens and will probably get more against the Buccaneers.
The Titans will complete the preseason slate with another home game August 27 against the Arizona Cardinals. They open the regular season September 11 at home against the New York Giants.