YAZOO PODCAST: On Marcus Mariota's modesty, Rishard Matthews' extension and Nashville's Bird scooters

YAZOO podcast stripeNASHVILLE, Tenn. -- We've got two preseason games and about two and a half weeks between us and truly meaningful football.

BlevinsPodcast

In this week's edition of the podcast, Madison Blevins guided me through a conversation about Titans injuries including Rashaan Evans status and the contingency plans if he's not ready, yet another example of modest Marcus Mariota and the weird contract extension for Rishard Matthews.

Part 1, like podcast versions of my public Periscope and Facebook Lives, will be available through iTunes, here, or directly through the Vokal website, here. Feel free to hook us up with a rating and review on iTunes.

If you're a member of the site, Part 1 and Part 2 are together, and all you have to do is head below the line. 

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The smartest Titans, by position

TicketsBar2NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Chad Withrow, inventor of the “Let's Bang Hats” slogan on The Midday 180 ,recently sparked an idea when he said he’d run here to read a piece ranking the Titans by smartest to least smart.

Not eager to make (more) enemies and admitting I don’t have a full read on everyone’s intelligence, I spun the idea into something a bit different, talking to 38 guys in the locker room and asking them who the smartest guy in their positional meetings rooms is.

Some of the results were surprising, some predictable.

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I had only two guidelines for the question. 1) Guys couldn’t vote for themselves. 2) When they asked if I meant football smart or book smart or street smart I told them they got to define smart for themselves.

I skipped quarterbacks. I’m thinking Marcus Mariota would have won it and a three-man position group wasn’t enough to work with.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – While Rashaan Evans did re-emerge to a new degree at Titans’ practice on Wednesday, early reported allowed people to believe he was really back.

And he’s not.EvansIntro1

Evans stretched with the team and did a little work, but it was very little and he was basically pulled out.

“Todd (Toriscelli, the team's director of sports medicine) does a great job with the return-to-play," Mike Vrabel said. "He starts them out with a jog-through, then we go into individual, and if they are feeling OK and doing OK with whatever they are working through, then we give them more. If he doesn't, then Todd pulls them back out of there.

“Rashaan wasn’t feeling great after individual, so we’ll give him some more treatment and will give him some more time. And hopefully, as soon as he’s ready, we’ll get him back out there.”

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Can we add Taywan Taylor to the list of dependable Marcus Mariota targets?

TicketsBar2NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Rishard Mathews and Delanie Walker both recently got contract extensions and when they are both healthy and back on the field they will get plenty of looks from Marcus Mariota.

But without Matthews for all of camp and without Walker for both games and the last small stretch of practice, Mariota’s often been left to look for someone else to rely on.TaylorSmile2Tampa

And Taywan Taylor’s been showing him and the Titans' coaches that he’s now a dependable, explosive player.

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One-sided Rishard Matthews extension creates more questions

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – If Rishard Matthews’ contract extension was particularly noteworthy, I’d say it was awfully hard to see that one coming, and that it qualified as an awfully big leap of faith.

But it’s an incredibly one-sided, team-friendly deal. It’s odd.

That’s a team option for an additional year in 2019 for a $2.75 million raise. Per Yates this year and next also include potential new money of close to $11 million in roster bonuses, incentives and performance escalators. This year's new money could total $1.375 million.

Even with that, Matthews can’t be celebrating much of a win.

MatthewsRams

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With Rashaan Evans missing, Jayon Brown making case for more work

TicketsBar2NASHVILLE, Tenn. – When the Titans drafted Rashaan Evans, it looked like a certainty that Jayon Brown was being cast as a situational player, a pass-defending inside linebacker we'd see in nickel.

But with Evans missing since the third day of camp, Brown has sometimes looked like something else entirely: One of the Titans’ best overall defenders.

In two preseason games, the second-year fifth-round pick has been flying around and making plays against the run and pass, and not just in coverage but as a threatening blitzer too.

BrownTampa 1

“Every rep that I get in practice and the games is helping my growth,” Brown said. “I’ve still got to prove (I’m a good run defender) each and every game, so I’ll let you know at the end of this year.”

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Akrum Wadley, Dalyn Dawkins could force Titans to keep a fourth RB

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It’s going to be hard for anyone to get past David Fluellen for the Titans’ No. 3 running back job.

He’s running angry and continues to be a key special teamer.Dawkins

But Akrum Wadley and Dalyn Dawkins are in line to make the Titans contemplate a fourth back. They need a fourth tight end more than a fourth back, but Wadley and Dawkins certainly look like better football players than Anthony Firkser or Tim Semisch right now.

"It felt real good,” Dawkins said if his 11-carry, 32-yard night. “I just tried to maximize every opportunity I got.”

At 5-foot-8, 195 pounds, Dawkins doesn’t seem like an inside runner, but he hit it between the tackles without hesitating.

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Scout's take: At times, Jayon Brown was the best player on the field

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By BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD, special contributor

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Scouting notes from the Titans 30-14 preseason Week 2 loss to the Buccaneers:

The Titans offense did what it needed to do on its only two drives. On the first drive, it was able to convert a first down but looked out of sync on the next three plays which resulted in a punt. The group scored a touchdown on drive No. 2.

Marcus Mariota completed four passes in the game, three of which were screens.BeddingfieldName

Ben Jones was beaten on the first run from scrimmage. 

Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry are going to be a good duo. If the screen game continues to be successful it will open downfield passes for the WRs. It should create one-on-one matchups outside. 

Dion Lewis had a nice pickup of a linebacker blitz in pass protection. 

Taywan Taylor is playing with confidence this season. In 2017 he looked lost at times. Taylor is the type of player that needs to have a grasp of the offense, so he can play freely and fast. He seems to be there right now.

Nick Williams started at slot receiver, but struggled vs. press man coverage. He did have the key block to spring Taylor for his 47-yard TD. Williams can do the little things a team needs like block on the TD pass, and in Green Bay he screened defenders to allow Darius Jennings to score. But he is not going to get open consistently enough to be a threat as a receiving option.

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