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By BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD, special contributor

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans opening drive for a touchdown was just what the team had hoped for in its preseason opener in Green Bay.

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A big third-down conversion kept the drive alive.  Even though on that play Marcus Mariota missed a crossing Taywan Taylor who was running free and open but chose to make a tough throw to Nick Williams.

The completion to Williams did keep the drive alive and led to a score.  the first drive of the game: Josh Kline missed his run block on the first play of the game and Quinton Spain was beaten on an inside run with the ball inside the 5-yard line; Dion Lewis had a very good blitz pickup on the touchdown pass to Darius Jennings; Marcus Mariota escaped too quickly twice from the pocket for limited gains; Derrick Henry ran well, looked smooth and powerful; Taywan Taylor was knocked off balance on a fade route in the red-zone by the contact from press coverage from rookie cornerback Josh Jackson. 

After Henry and Lewis, Akrum Wadley flashed good hands, quickness and run after the catch ability. But the fumble Wadley had in the fourth quarter is not something you want to see showing up again. 

The starting defense did not leave Green Bay with the same positive feelings.

Adoree Jackson and Malcolm Butler were both picked on by the Packer wide receivers.  Butler was beaten on a simple go route for a big gain.  Jackson was beaten consistently on short routes that kept the ball moving downfield.   This is not a concern right now. Both should be fine moving forward.

Kevin Byard made an excellent pass breakup against a slant route on the goal line.IMG 3487

The starting defensive line and outside linebackers were non-factors on the Packers opening drive. 

Jayon Brown was beaten in man coverage for the touchdown, he was late to pick up his man out of the backfield and then missed the tackle in space. 

We saw a very good rush and sack for Harold Landry against left tackle Kyle Murphy. Murphy is a backup level offensive tackle but still good enough to make a team.  Landry had a good leverage rush with inside hand stab, very good bend around the edge and close to the QB.  Landry had another pressure later in the game.

Julius Warmsley consistently made plays versus the run and pass. Starting defensive lineman DaQuan Jones and Austin Johnson played deep into the second quarter.  Gimel President had a good rush, showed power and ability to finish his rush.  But did injure his knee?

Kalan Reed played well and is the fifth cornerback right now. 

Special teams were solid overall. 

Cameron Batson is not a starting kick returner in the NFL at this point, he was hesitant hitting the hole, and did not show the speed on the field that he showed at his pro day. Wadley did have a good late kickoff return. LeShaun Sims and Dane Cruikshank looked good as gunners, but Cruikshank left with a left shoulder injury.

Concerns:

Too many penalties in the game, some were the referees emphasizing a point, but most were legitimate calls. You can’t win games with 14 penalties. A hundred yards in penalty yards is like giving away 7 points. 

The defensive line rotation and depth is concerning.  The team was without nose tackle Bennie Logan but the depth at the position is not where it needs to be going into the season. 

Lacking a solid inside linebacker next to Wesley Woodyard showed up.  Rashaan Evans needs to get healthy and play.  Evans has a chance to add speed and athleticism to the team, but he can’t have the injuries like he did at Alabama. 

The backups are not good enough to be an upgrade over what the team had last year in Avery Williamson.Party Fowl Online Ads 02

The second team offense behind Blaine Gabbert was not as sharp.  What you saw from Gabbert was exactly what he has been during his career.  He can flash the ability to complete difficult NFL throws but he is also an inconsistent decision-maker with poor accuracy when the play breaks down.

Receivers were struggling all night to gain separation from the young cornerbacks of the Packers. Without an injured Corey Davis and Rishard Matthews, the group was led by Taylor and Tajae Sharpe but neither had an impact on the game.   This was an opportunity for a young receiver to step up and take a roster spot, but no one did that. 

Luke Stocker is a below average lead blocker. 

Regarding the matchups that I pointed out in Thursday's preview:

  • Quinton Spain had a good night in limited views, his competition Kevin Pamphile, Xavier Sua-Filo were solid overall, Pamphile did have a holding call while playing left tackle, Sua-Fila was strong and aggressive in the run game.  I know Cody Wichmann is in the mix there too, but he is limited. He is a try-hard player that ends up on the ground too much. Slips off blocks. Doesn’t have the athletic ability to hold up vs. power and speed.
  • I know Will Compton is starting right now. From my vantage point, after Green Bay I would put Daren Bates is in the lead. He is better on special teams and more active as an ILB.  Compton’s weaknesses showed up: poor cover skills, lacks strength and power vs. inside run.  Jayon Brown should be the starting ILB next to Woodyard until Rashaan Evans gets healthy. 
  • David King was a non-factor while Julius Warmsley was one player that stood out for his hurries, pressures, tip balls. He was active all night and actually played ahead of King in the rotation during the game.
  • David Fluellen officially has competition from Akrum Wadley for the third RB position. 
  • Luke Stocker is continued to be put into a lead blocker position but does not have production at that spot. He is the third TE now but needs competition for that spot. 
  • Luke Falk did not show enough to warrant keeping a roster spot for a third QB, but with Blaine Gabbert’s inconsistencies, he will need to be around. 
  • Aaron Wallace vs. Josh Carraway: Carraway was a non-factor in the game, Wallace did have some hurries, but didn’t finish off with a sack. apple icon 114x114 precomposed
  • Kenny Vaccaro was active and aggressive near the line of scrimmage. This is what he does best and didn’t do anything in the game to cause concern.  Dane Cruikshank’s injury and Kendrick Lewis not playing in the game leaves Vaccaro unchallenged at this point.

The first preseason game created more questions than answers: The Cruikshank injury depletes a position that is already lacking depth. The injured starting wide receivers are not getting enough time with Marcus Mariota and they must play. The backup wide receivers are not showing traits that help them make a team. The starting quarterback will need to stay healthy for all 16 this season. The defensive line depth is concerning. And the inside linebacker position is missing a starter.

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Blake Beddingfield spent 19 years as a scout for the Tennessee Titans through the 2017 draft. His final six seasons, he was the director of college scouting.

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