Superb downfield blocks producing long TDs for Titans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The big-play Tennessee Titans have touchdowns of 32, 55 and 75 yards in the last two weeks and the guys scoring them haven’t hard a particularly hard time finding open space.

That’s because the team has done some remarkable work getting downfield and making blocks. Last week guards Quinton Spain and Josh Kline were ahead of Jonnu Smith on a 32-yard catch-and-run and could hardly find any work to do.RDR20170924 0739

Sunday at Nissan Stadium, Rishard Matthews got a great block from Phillip Supernaw to help him finish a 55-yard TD catch and DeMarco Murray benefitted from great work by fullback Jalston Fowler as well as receivers Taywan Taylor and Matthews.

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Third-quarter explosion lifts Titans to big win over Seahawks

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- It was a first-half slugfest, reminiscent of the sort of games the Titans and Ravens played near the turn of the century.

And then, in the third quarter, the Titans big-play potential turned into big plays: A 55-yard catch and run TD by Rishard Matthews, a play-action 24-yard TD toss to Jonnu Smith and a superb 75-yard scoring run by DeMarco Murray.

The offensive explosion catapulted the Titans to a 33-27 win over the Seattle Seahawks. Like the Jaguars, who the Tennessee beat in Florida last week, the Titans are 2-1.

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Protest conversation unavoidable after POTUS comments, NFL responses

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Before every game last year, ESPN reporters were asked to monitor any sign of protest connected to the national anthem, and send word of it to HQ. Editors gathered it all and put out a roundup in a file we were told got a lot of traffic.

And the Twitter timelines of the contributors filled up. Enough already, many of you told us, we don’t care, we don’t want this as part of our NFL coverage every Sunday. We passed on that sentiment and continued to get the assignment.AnthemCAR

On my own, I’ve written one piece about the “anthem issue,” as Titans defensive linemen DaQuan Jones felt he was misportrayed when he spoke to ESPN and they blew up a story about how he didn’t want to get labeled as the next Colin Kaepernick.

Otherwise, in the efforts of this site to steer clear of the political and as there has been nothing new, I’ve left it alone.

But President Trump’s comments in Alabama on Friday night ignited the whole issue in a way where he’s made it inescapable. He said players who kneel during the national anthem

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Mailbag: Any concerns about Marcus Mariota?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Before we begin, please check out Friday's Periscipe live from Neighrbors in Sylvan Park. That's a weekly gig now, and it gets more and more fun.

Watch on #Periscope: https://t.co/WpzhO1W0gz from @Neighbors_nash in Sylvan Park https://t.co/UCyXxfrCLW

Onto the mail. In my previous job, we were allowed to do just one question. One! I don't think you guys found that very filling. I seek to provide an entree not an appetizer.

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Titans pass rushers not expecting easy time vs. struggling Seahawks offensive line

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Seahawks are having offensive line troubles, which leads me to think on Sunday it has to be a Jurrell Casey Brian Orakpo, Derrick Morgan, game.

Seattle has given up six sacks, and that’s with the very mobile Russell Wilson at quarterback.RakandDMCar

Coach Mike Mularkey said the teams have to be disciplined in their rush lanes, but he bristled at the idea the Titans could look to contain Wilson rather than going after him.

“No, we’re going to get him,” he said.

Orakpo said it’s really dangerous to go into a game thinking it’ll be one that especially allows for quarterback hits and sacks.

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Titans should give DeMarco Murray the week off, ride with Derrick Henry vs. the Seahawks

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – While the Titans are hopeful DeMarco Murray (hamstring) will practice Friday, the wise call could be to give him Sunday vs. Seattle off and look to ensure his hamstring is completely right before he returns.

The team remains committed to Murray as its lead back. But the drafting of Derrick Henry in the second round in 2016 wasn’t just about the future and having a quality No. 2 in the present. It served as identity insurance.

If Henry starts and gets the bulk of the work Sunday, the Titans should be just fine in terms of running the ball against a defense that’s surrendered 5.2 yards a carry through two games.

There are areas of concern, and if Henry gets hurt there is a big dropoff to David Fluellen. Still, Tennessee ought to ride with Henry this week.

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Who some Titans wish they could matchup with again

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – After Jurrell Casey got bowled over by Marshawn Lynch at the end of the Titans' opening-day loss to the Raiders, the Titans defensive tackle said he owed the running back one and hoped for another chance.

“He’s on the list, definitely,” Casey said. “I don’t have a big list. Not too many guys get me. Him. Shonn Greene got me before, back in 2012 before he got here. He was one guy who was on my list and he got saved because the following year he came here. I told him, if I ever get a chance to get you, practice, camp, whatever, I was going to get him. But he got lucky.”

Tight end Phillip Supernaw didn’t hesitate with his answer.

It’s probably different by position, but I sought the guy at the top of other players’ lists and came up largely empty.

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Short sacks of Marcus Mariota might provide hidden yards

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Sacks are drive-killer, yardage losses that often lead to punts and lost possessions.

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Former Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, now in the same role in Philadelphia, used to talk about how they almost served as mini-turnovers.

While I am generally a proponent of Marcus Mariota staying in the pocket, his ability to sense and avoid pressure even in a sack situation can really help the Titans on those plays.

A 2-yard sack, after all, is far less consequential than an 8-yard sack.

So far in his career, Mariota’s average yards lost per sack has actually been worse than the league average.

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