Protective Knee Brace Stock PhotoNASHVILLE, Tenn. – For Titans’ offensive linemen, practices in pads now include double knee braces, an extra measure the team is taking to try to prevent anyone getting rolled up on and suffering a long-term injury.

While players understand the safety element, they also tend to feel they do not move as freely given the braces -- as even modern, sleeker versions still tend to make them feel slower on their feet.

“They are all right,” Ty Sambrailo said. “They’re not the best. I’m not a big fan of knee braces. When we’re in full pads, the O-line has to wear knee braces. It’s a GM thing. We’re not a huge fan of them but we do what we’re told.”

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Scouting review: Titans' defensive backups looked 'faster, bigger and more athletic'

By BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD, special correspondent

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The four most important factors in Preseason game 1.

1. Exit the game injury-free

2. How are the team's projected backup players performing?

Running Back Darrynton Evans, Tennessee Titans

© George Walker IV /

3. How much has last year’s (2020) draft class improved?

4. How did your current rookie class compete?

Injuries during the Falcons' game

1. Darrynton Evans, injured knee. A big concern because he needs to show why he was drafted in Round Three. Also, he needs the reps in pre-season because he missed most of his rookie year with a hamstring injury. Mike Vrabel said they will assess him during the week.

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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.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Logan Woodside has done zero.

We expect to see him continue to make his case to continue as Ryan Tannehill’s backup Friday night in Atlanta, where Tannehill is not expected to play.Tennessee Titans Quarterback Logan Woodside Practice

Pool photo: George Walker/ The Tennessean

Tennessee has been fortunate that Tannehill has been healthy since he took over as its starter during the 2019 season. Most teams are doomed if their starting QB goes down for an extended period. There aren’t 32 good starters, so a good backup is a real luxury.

Some guys who were outright bad as starters qualify as really good backups. They are in fresh situations, they have starting experience, they can play in a pinch with little practice time and if they are on a good team, people imagine they could drive that team to a 2-2 record if called on to start for a month. Some backups are inexperienced draft picks.

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Paul Kuharsky Arthur Smith BroadcastNASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Friday night in Atlanta, Arthur Smith walks the sideline for the first time as a head coach as the Falcons host the Titans in the preseason opener for both teams.

The former Tennessee offensive coordinator was kind enough to pop in for a quick visit with me on Thursday afternoon.

We hit on Todd Downing, Mike Vrabel, coordinator autonomy, Stretch, Derrick Henry, adjusting to a new roster and a bit more.

Members can watch it at the private Facebook page or below on YouTube.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans have hired their first official analytics employee, adding Matt Iammarino as assistant developer, analytical football research to Jon Robinson’s player personnel department.

Iammarino will help with the team's scouting database development and some analytical and statistical research.

Seth Walder NFL Analytics Tweet

While it's not a huge role by any means, his hiring marks a milestone for the Titans, who were the one team in the NFL without anyone with an analytics title. [Unlocked]

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Through 10 practices, the Titans’ nickel spot doesn't stand as many of us imagined it would.

American Nickel Stock PhotoSecond-year man Chris Jackson is the lead man defending the slot, and he’s done some good work.

First-round pick Caleb Farley is now in action and working in team periods, but cornerbacks have not been reshuffled – at least not yet.

Jackson has the team’s most specialized nickel behind him in third-rounder Elijah Molden, who I didn’t see in team periods Monday.

"(Jackson) has been out there getting a lot of reps, obviously," Kevin Byard said. "Being a rookie last year, he didn't have preseason games, was thrown out there in Denver, made a few mistakes. But his improvement's been really (good). Obviously, he can still get better.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – When they are at full strength, the Titans’ offensive weaponry will create tough pick-your-poison game-plan conversations for defenses scheming against them.

Play a single-high safety like most teams have done most of the time against Derrick Henry during his prime and you certainly leave yourself susceptible to A.J. Brown and Julio Jones against single coverage. Even with that deployment, you may still get gashed by the NFL’s best combination of size and speed, a player DBs struggle to bring down and fear getting stiff-armed by in the open field.

Derrick Henry Running Drills Practice

Pool photo: George Walker, The Tennessen

Double-team A.J. Brown or Julio Jones and you may take away one of Ryan Tannehill’s most threatening targets, but then Henry is running into a lighter box.

What approach will a defense take against the Titans?

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