YAZOO PODCAST: Burning questions before the Titans get started

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Who's the slot receiver? Who's covering the slot receiver? Can the Titans rush the passer likely down two key guys?

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In this week's edition of the podcast, Madison Blevins guided me through a conversation about the big questions I want the answers to in the Titans' season opener Sunday in Miami.

We also hit on my expectation for in-season injury news, the potential for roster-alteration next week, Nike's big move, offensive precision and a team theme from Matt LaFleur.

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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For Titans' offense, time for better timing starts in Miami

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The scope is now narrowed.

With the Titans back to full strength at receiver and tight end and with Marcus Mariota and that group focused on specific plays in the game plan, there is less room for mistimed plays.

The Dolphins will aim to throw the quarterback and his targets off rhythm with their pass rush and coverage. But as the Titans unveil the full offense, hidden behind dark curtains for much of the preseason, the time should be passed where we hear anything about guys not being on the same page.DavisMissKC

“I think any quarterback really likes it once you get into the season because the body of the playbook gets cut down into a game plan,’ Pat O’Hara said. “As quarterbacks, we all like that because we can really study the plan and really focus in on what the situation is for each and every play and be locked in for it.”

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Rashaan Evans will be listed with a hamstring injury, has a chance to work beyond position drills Wednesday

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Titans rookie inside linebacker Rashaan Evans will be listed Wednesday on the team’s first injury report with a hamstring issue, which is what has bothered him since the third day of camp.

The expectation at team headquarters is that the 22nd pick from the draft will go through stretch and positional work at the start of practice and could advance to some work in team periods if he responds well.

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But there is no indication as Tennessee starts practices focused exclusively on the game plan for Sunday’s matchup with the Dolphins in Miami as to whether Evans can do enough to be part of the defense at Hard Rock Stadium.

The Titans are sure to start Wesley Woodyard at one inside linebacker spot.

With Evans having a week’s work, at best, the other spot seems most likely to go to a platoon of Will Compton, who’s regarded as being best against the run, and Jayon Brown, who worked as a passing-down specialist in 2017 as a rookie.

It’s also possible Brown would be looked to in the second spot, playing most of the time there.

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The Titans' submission to the case against four preseason games

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The case against the NFL preseason as we know it needs no further evidence.

But the Titans provided a little bit last week. On Thursday night, like many of his colleagues around the league did in Week 4 of the preseason and earlier, Mike Vrabel was risk-averse and played only guys who he could afford to lose.VrabelCharge

That didn’t mean, however, he didn’t want the core of the 39 guys who didn’t play to have a day off. And while there would usually be a solid workout for those players, he set it in a different context, running what could be regarded as a padded practice.

Given a choice, then, between the scheduled game at his disposal 4.8 miles away the same evening or the safety of a non-tackling practice where his quarterback wouldn’t get hit and he could ramp up the tempo as he saw fit for conditioning purpose, he chose the latter.

Can anyone blame him?

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Cameron Batson (17), Matt Dickerson and Aaron Stinnie did not stand out during Titans' preseason games and all very likely would have cleared waivers leading tospotss on the Titans practice squad.

Not only did the Titans keep all three on their 53-man roster, but Jon Robinson said Monday the team didn’t even put in any waiver claims.

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So what the Titans had was better in their eyes to anything that came free elsewhere in the NFL.

It is, at least partially, a testament to the value of time with the team. I wonder too if a team that only had four draft picks and only kept the top three of them worked overtime in seeking to find treasure while mining undrafteds.

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Titans lose Luke Falk, could be in pursuit of John Simon

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Roster modifications may still be coming, but the Titans added no one through a waiver claim.

That doesn’t mean they didn’t try to grab anyone. It means if they did, a team higher than 25th in the claiming order got him.

The Titans lost one-quarter of their draft class as the Dolphins claimed quarterback Luke Falk, who Tennessee surely intended to get on its practice squad after spending a sixth-round pick on him.FalkThumbs

Blake Beddingfield, the former Titans scout who is a special contributor here, said he thinks Falk is destined to get chances.

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PodcastYazooArt

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Preseason game performance meant even less than we may have thought.

I discuss that and answer a bunch of your questions from cut-down day in this week's edition of the podcast.

Who's on shaky ground? Who's the No. 1 guy I think they should chase who's been let go elsewhere? What are their top weaknesses? Why can't they find special teams guys who are better at their positions on defense?

This week the pod is all public.

You can find it on iTunes, here, or directly through the Vokal website, here. Feel free to hook us up with a rating and review on iTunes.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The backend of the Titans initial 53-man roster is loaded with surprises.

A four-man draft class, shrunken by draft-pick trades, created room and several players who were productive in preseason games – running backs Akrum Wadley and Dalyn Dawkins, defensive end Julius Warmsley, inside linebacker Robert Spillane -- lost out.

In are Sharif Finch), an undrafted outside linebacker from Temple; Aaron Stinnie, an undrafted guard from James Madison; Matt Dickerson, an undrafted defensive end from UCLA; And Cameron Batson (17), an undrafted receiver from Texas Tech.

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Those four cost the Titans a mere $70,000 in guaranteed money when they lured them to Tennessee. Finch got $42,000 to sign, Dickerson $15,000, Batson $8,000 and Stinnie $5,000.

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