Football is finally back, folks!
The Tennessee Titans will start off their 2010 preseason the same way they ended the 2009 regular season as they travel to the Pacific Northwest to square off against the Seattle Seahawks.
Of course, the focus of last year's season-ender was to reach 8-8 and get Chris Johnson past the 2,000 yard mark; two things that were accomplished by the Titans that day. In tonight's preseason-opener, the emphasis will be placed upon getting the young guys some playing time and for the players fighting for roster spots to have their opportunity to show what they're made of.
Here are the five things that I'll be keeping my eyes on the most as the Titans battle the Seahawks Saturday night.
The fight for starting cornerback #2 continues
Perhaps the Titans' most intriguing position battle is taking place at cornerback, where a slew of youngsters are competing for the right to start opposite of Cortland Finnegan.
Tonight will be an opportunity for the likes of Jason McCourty, Ryan Mouton and Alterraun Verner to show Jeff Fisher whether they're ready or not to step up as a starter.
Personally, I'm curious to see what McCourty and Mouton are going to do as they embark upon their second seasons in the NFL. As for Verner, he's a notorious ball-hawk who as a rookie, will have the shot to step up as an unheralded starter in his freshman campaign.
No, the title is not referring to the infamous, "punch seen around the world" in one of college football's most ugliest incidents. Instead, it's about a guy who is trying to capitalize on a second chance and according to most accounts, is showing signs of developing into a force as a short-yardage back for the Tennessee Titans.
Described by Jeff Fisher as a true north-south runner who was brought in to move the pile, LeGarrette Blount will definitely be one of the guys I'm keeping my eyes on tonight.
Everyone's favorite sleeper: Marc Mariani
One of the interesting stories of the Titans' offseason has been the plight of seventh-round draftee Marc Mariani. Despite his unflattering draft position, Mariani has turned heads with his Wes Welker-like abilities during OTAs and training camp. In addition to his receiving skills, he's also one of the guys who should get plenty of action as the Titans continue their search for a capable return-man.
Tonight, we'll begin to see whether or not the hype surrounding the rookie is justified.
Will Sen'Derrick make his mark?
Riding the momentum of a solid finish to his rookie season, Sen'Derrick Marks has continued to improve over the course of the offseason. In addition to his already solid pass-rushing skills for a man of his stature, Marks has dedicated himself to the weight room as he's increased his strength significantly.
I don't know about the rest of you, but I'd like to see some of that improvement in the form of a nice play or two against the Seahawks tonight.
The plight of the young TEs
Lastly, Jared Cook and Craig Stevens are also guys that I'll be paying attention to later tonight. Both players are vying for more significant roles in 2010, with Cook attempting to become a bigger factor in the passing game and Stevens replacing Alge Crumpler as the team's designated blocker at tight end.
Any players/position battles you intend on focusing upon tonight as the Titans face the Seahawks? Feel free to contribute your thoughts in the comments section below.