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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Yazoo mailbag: How to influence the NFL's preseason plan

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Thank you for stopping by the mailbag. I hope it helps tide us over until we get to see something new from the Titans Sunday night at Nissan Stadium when the Steelers visit. 

UnicornPK: The only way I see to make a team really take a concern about the preseason seriously it to hit it in the pocketbook.

And since season tickets force you to buy preseason tickets, the only way to do this is for an uprising where a very high

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In 'Stretch,' Mike Vrabel and Titans have a Keyser Soze 'who's always got something'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Mike Vrabel exits the door from the Titans’ training room, crosses the media patio and moves onto the practice field. A cart dressed up like a giant speaker is to his right. Inside is an iPhone that controls the music, and one of the actual speakers from which blares the early part of the team’s practice soundtrack: Alabama’s “Down Home.”

“That’s terrible, Stretch,” Vrabel shouts.

He sticks his head inside, finds the controls and changes the song to “Last Time That I Checc’d” by Nipsey Hussle featuring YG.

Stretch

Happy players explode, thrilled with the change. It’s as if Stretch set the coach up to be a hero.

Stretch is 29-year-old John Streicher (pronounced Striker). By title, he’s assistant to head coach. In practice – as well as at practice -- he’s much more.

“He’s like Keyser Soze,” Arthur Smith said. “You don’t want to cross Stretch. It’s been bad for a lot of people. Please quote me on that.”

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Running back David Fluellen is working to return from knee surgery and could be ready to play in the Titans' season opener in Cleveland on Sept. 8.FluellenBucsPractice

It's unclear when exactly Fluellen got hurt or what exactly he did, but he's been out of action since before the team's preseason opener on Aug. 8. With Derrick Henry also out, Jeremy McNichols has worked behind Dion Lewis in the two preseason games, averaging 4.1 yards per carry on 14 chances.  

Fluellen suffered a knee injury against the Patriots Nov. 11, 2018 and while the Titans held out hope he could return he went on IR Dec. 20.

Fluellen is a favorite of Mike Vrabel and the third-year running back from Toledo fits right in with the coach's frequent message that the team will treat a player as the player treats the team. It would be a big surprise if Fluellen didn't maintain his spot on the roster as the team's third running back. [Unlocked]

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With Jonnu Smith back, Titans can sort though all TE options

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Delanie Walker showed he’s all the way back with a nice touchdown catch against the Patriots Saturday evening. Jonnu Smith passed a physical and came off PUP Monday.SMithBucsPractice

Mike Vrabel is poised to have a full deck of cards at tight ends for the season opener in Cleveland for the first time since the start of last year’s season opener, and the question about the position won’t be the top of the group but at the bottom.

Anthony Firkser is an excellent pass catcher who’s got to get better blocking. Ryan Hewitt is an H-back type who’s got to be better in-line and MyCole Pruitt is an in-line blocker who’s got to be better in that H-back role.

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Blake Beddingfield served as a Titans' scout for 19 years, the final six as the team's director of college scouting. During the regular season, he writes scouting previews and reviews of every Titans' game for PaulKuharsky.com. Here is an unlocked sample of his work. Read him every week here by becoming a member.

By BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD, special contributor

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Patriots started all second-teamers on their defense to open the game versus the Titans and the Titans countered with their starting offensive unit.

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On the surface, that looked bad for the Titans to go three-and-out on consecutive drives against backups, but you have to remember in pre-season the backups are fighting for their careers and usually put forth maximum effort at all times in these games.

Even though they are not their most talented or experienced players the Patriots have they are still capable to compete in a half of a football game.

On offense, the Patriots started two first-team players in TE Ben Watson and LT Isaiah Wynn. All the other players were backups. [Unlocked]

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Marcus Mariota was just fine Saturday evening in a 22-17 preseason Titans loss to the Patriots.

But it seemed Titans’ Twitter wanted to throw a parade for his six-of-nine, 63-yard, one TD effort with a 2-point conversion run that scared the hell out of everyone as it ended with a flip forced by Duron Harmon’s low hit to initiate the tackle.MariotaPatriots19

I think fans of the team and its starting quarterback have felt under siege lately and pounced on anything that might counter that.

The siege was uncalled for as was the celebration of a performance I’d hope for from any quality NFL starter in Week 2 of the preseason. [Unlocked]

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