Titans' WRs convinced stigma, mojo of position is changing

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Over and over and over again, no matter what the franchise has done, the wide receivers have come to disappoint.

New free agents and high picks, turned over position coaches and coordinators have not been able to break through for the Tennessee Titans, who’ve remained, with occasional exceptions, a run- and defense-based football team.HumphriesHandsPractice

It’s hard to buy hope before we see real results. And here's one thing that must change: Titans receivers have averaged a touchdown every 23.8 receptions (309 Rec/13 TDs) since the start of the 2017 season -- the worst in NFL and almost double the NFL average of 12.6.

But with veteran slot receiver Adam Humphries and the rugged/athletic A.J. Brown part of the group – and with the Titans actually calling themselves a three-wide receiver base offense for the first time I can remember – there seems to be an opportunity for a real breakthrough.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Roster reflections on the first version of the Titans’ 53-man roster.

The biggest surprise: Corey Levin (pictured snapping to Marcus Mariota) seemed a lock as the backup center, and the Titans had not snuffed out the possibility he could be in the lineup with Ben Jones bumping over to right guard, the team’s most problematic spot.MariotaLevinJetsBut Levin, a sixth-rounder from 2017, is gone and the Titans will lean on Jamil Douglas if they need relief of Jones. It’s even more surprising considering they kept nine offensive linemen, with David Quessenberry the big surprise. He’s the third tackle for now, and likely to disappear when Taylor Lewan returns from suspension after four games. [Unlocked]

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How Amy Adams Strunk can help revolutionize the NFL preseason

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Fewer front-liner players are seeing less preseason action than ever.

Mike Vrabel sat 40 healthy players in the Titans preseason finale Thursday night in Chicago.preseason2019

From 49ers coach Matt Shanahan to Falcons owner Arthur Blank, the sentiment that the preseason is too long and too unnecessary is becoming more and more widespread.

But the fact is, shortening it will cost owners money, and they are not in the business of giving back money. Thus the constant buzz about an expanded regular season that would have to be negotiated as part of a new CBA, something the owners would like to have ironed out with the NFLPA before the Super Bowl.

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Blake Beddingfield's 53-man Titans' roster

By BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD, special contributor

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- My 53-man roster prediction for the Titans coming off their fourth preseason game.

Quarterbacks (3)

Marcus Mariota: No competition for the starting position. Mariota is the clear-cut leader and the better player to have a successful season.MariotaAnthemSteelers19

Ryan Tannehill: The best backup the Titans have had since Matt Hasselbeck.

Logan Woodside: He has enough upside to continue to develop and deserves a spot on the 53-man roster because there isn’t anyone else worthy of his spot.

Running backs (4)

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Titans' OLBs have big work setting the edge; Reggie Gilbert should be a help

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – To set up many of his 98 NFL sacks, Cameron Wake first had to set the edge.

It’s a far less glamorous element to the job description for an outside linebacker (or 4-3 defensive end), but Wake’s sensibility about it is one that should trickle down to Sharif Finch, Harold Landry, Kamelei Correa, Reggie Gilbert -- who's on his way via trade per Adam Schefter -- and anyone else the Titans roll out at the position.WakeSteelersPortrait

“They don’t write too many stories about setting the edge, there are no ESPN highlights of setting the edge,” Wake said. “Most times if you do your job properly, you probably won’t even be the guy to make the tackle. It’s two sides of the same coin. I feel like if I’m setting the edge on first- and second-down, you put them in a third-and-long situation so that you can do the thing that everybody is waiting to see which is rush the quarterback.

“You have to be able to do the first part or you’ll never be able to do the second part. You’ve got to work before you play.”

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Monday, longtime Oilers/Titans' fan James Morrissey of Baton Rouge, La. called the team's ticket office to inquire about season tickets.

He was turned away.

"It is a 9-hour drive, occasionally we fly in for games," he wrote me. "Anyway, I wanted season tickets and I was told that I can’t purchase them because I do not live within a 4-hour radius of Nashville. I have since emailed them asking for re-consideration and I am waiting to hear back from them. Side note: I’m driving around Saints' country with a damn personalized Titans license plate. I’m very disappointed."

He was not optimistic about the reconsideration. The note included a couple of pictures. He asked if there was anything I could think of that might help his case.

IMG 6620

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Scout's take: A.J. Brown is a little heavy, Adoree' Jackson is struggling

By BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD, special correspondent

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Titans starting offense started out poorly. Incompletions, dropped passes and sacks. Too many inconsistencies for this late in the preseason.

The second-team offense came in the game and there were incompletions, dropped passes and sacks.MariotaGunSteelers

The Steelers’ offense did not miss a beat. QB Ben Roethlisberger was not sharp but had receivers open when he needed. The Steelers’ run game was solid with James Connor and Jalen Samuels. The Steelers’ OL routinely got a push on the Titans’ defensive line and covered up the linebackers for big runs.

The lack of pass rush by the Titans and the lack of ability to cover the deep post route is a major concern.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – From inside a dry press box, I felt especially terrible for those who chose to come to Nissan Stadium. We could all join with every player, coach, executive and stadium worker to offer a prayer of thanks that lightning didn’t invite itself to the occasion.

Pile another borefest on the stack of evidence that preseason in its current form must go the way of the dodo bird, and fast. And imagine, late Thursday we will look back on Steelers 18, Titans 6 and rate it a thriller compared to preseason game No. 4 in Chicago pitting the Titans against the Bears when we are unlikely to see any Tennessee players of consequence.SimsBeatSteelers

The major storyline for those who watched on TV was just how bad NBC’s experimental preferred primary Sky Cam angle of the action was. You can make the “action” harder to see and the numbers harder to read but the uniforms were still tell-tale Titans and Steelers. Imagine if they’d combined the MLB weekend concept on monochromatic uniforms with player-chosen nicknames that were unreadable.

It’s the job, so I tried to find some things to dissect. [Unlocked]

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