Promising signs out of Titans' preseason start in Atlanta

Rashad Weaver was the story of the preseason opener for the Titans in a 23-3 win in Atlanta, showing off his length and using his long arms to cause problems for people.

He finished with 1.5 sacks, two tackles for a loss, two QB hits and a pass defensed.

Overall the Tennessee’s defensive front was quite effective with five sacks and pretty consistent pressure on A.J. McCarron and Feleipe Franks. Much of it came against less-than-stellar protection personnel, but they could only beat what was put in front of them.Tennessee Titans Linebacker Rashad Weaver

© George Walker – USA TODAY Sports

For Weaver, a fourth-round pick out of Pitt, there is a great opportunity to earn a spot as the third outside linebacker to offer big support of Harold Landry and Bud Dupree. Neither played against the Falcons.

The 6-foot-4, 259-pound Weaver using his length to good effect, reaching a long arm to create problems a few times for McCarron and jumping in front of a rolled-out Franks to easily bat down a third-quarter pass.

It’s got to be taken as an encouraging performance to grow on.

Gunners and route-runners: If Racey McMath makes the roster, it will be in large part because the Titans expect he can be special on special teams. He was one of the team’s two gunners on the punt cover team through the first half, first opposite Chris Jackson and later Fred Brown. Brian Hill also saw time at gunner, I believe -- it was very hard to see the uniform number – as did Dez Fitzpatrick and Chris Jones.

Marcus Johnson started but hardly played from what I could tell, an amazing statement about how he’s valued right now.

A.J. Brown was bubble wrapped like a lot of starters and Julio Jones has not been practicing. Josh Reynolds also started. He and Johnson may not have played beyond the first series. Neither was targeted.

Johnson’s been the story of camp in terms of guys seizing chances. He’s a gunner too, but the Titans didn’t even need him to play long on offense better yet work in that role on special teams.

McMath, Cam Batson (who caught a TD), Mason Kinsey and Brown all saw first-half time while fourth-rounder Fitzpatrick still waiting.

O-line woes: That offensive line depth is just as bad as we thought and it was on display from the start as the Titans started second-teamers and were into some third-liners before the half.

Daniel Munyer’s snapping woes didn’t surface, but he was easily pushed back as pressure up the middle was a problem.

One big hit on Logan Woodside came when Munyer and left guard Jordan Roos each extended a hand to touch blitzing linebacker Erroll Thompson and then turned away from him and he flew easily between them.

Roos was signed on Aug. 7.

Safety Jaylinn Hawkins also had a big hit on Woodside. This one wasn’t on the leaky OL.

Mekhi Sargent had already picked someone up and Hawkins came up the middle free. I think Woodside just had to get rid of it even sooner than he did.

As Mike Vrabel told reporters in Atlanta after the game, "they were blitzing the shit out of him."

Meaningless, but...: While zero projected offensive starters played, six were out there on defense: Teair Tart on the line, Rashaan Evans and Jayon Brown at linebacker, Jackrabbit Jenkins at corner and Kevin Byard and Amani Hooker at safety. 

I took it as a bit of a statement about how far the team has to climb back from a 19-sack season during which it surrendered over 50 percent conversions on third downs.

The unit allowed only two conversions on 12 third downs for Atlanta, which didn't play Matt Ryan, Calvin Ridley, Kyle Pitts or a lot of others. It didn't mean a lot, but take it as symbolic progress.

apple icon 144x144 precomposedKinsey: Mason Kinsey is solid, but it’s going to be tough for him to find room. He had four nice catches for 51 yards.

Sure, he’s improved since, but keep in mind a more wide receiver-needy Titans’ team let him go last year.

The Patriots released him from their practice squad twice in 2020, a season during which they lost slot-man supreme Julian Edelman after six games.

Chester Rogers’ great 57-yard punt return didn’t help Kinsey, who didn’t get to a fourth-quarter punt that ended up bouncing for 60 yards.

Injuries: Darrynton Evans (knee), Trevon Coley (foot), Mathias Farley, Brady Breeze, B.J. Bello (left calf or ankle), Tucker McCann (right foot).


Stay tuned Saturday for a scouting recap of the game from Blake Beddingfield, who was a Titans' scout for 19 years, six as the team's college scouting director.

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