The Tennessee Titans play host to the Atlanta Falcons this evening at LP Field in the third and most important preseason game. Kickoff is at 7 PM CT. The game will be aired on the Titans and Falcons preseason television networks and will be available to out of market viewers like yours truly on the NFL's Preseason Live service. Other out of market viewers will have to find some other means of watching or wait for NFL Network's re-air at 7 PM on Monday.
While this third preseason game is the key dress rehearsal and the game that featured the most game-planning specific to the opponent, what the Titans will do tonight is much more about what the Titans want to see and do than the particular threats, both scheme and personnel, posed by the Falcons. Thus, my preview notes are still concentrated on the Titans much more than on the Titans-Falcons matchups and Enemy Intelligence will make its 2013 debut in the regular season.
Here's what I'll be keeping my eye on in tonight's game.
1. The nature of the passing game. Against the Redskins, the Titans seemed to look for big shots downfield, and Jake Locker checked down when those shots were not open. Against the Bengals, the Titans seemed to make a concentrated effort to get the ball out quickly. Which will Dowell Loggains do against the Falcons?
2. Delanie Walker. He makes his preseason debut. The Titans signed him because they want him to play a big role in the offense this year. Does Jake Locker actually throw him the ball, after mostly ignoring the tight ends previously in the preseason? Where does he line up, at fullback, on the line, on the wing, in the slot, outside, or some combination of most or all of those?
3. Damian Williams. With Kendall Wright out, he'll get his first significant reps of the preseason with the first team offense. He's looked good against second teamers to this point, but will he continue to do so against Atlanta's top unit?
4. Brian Schwenke. His knee injury definitely set him back, but I still would not absolutely rule him out from starting at center in Pittsburgh to open the regular season. A good performance his first time under the lights would strengthen that case. A couple bad snaps would not.
5. Mike Martin. I don't think he's in any roster jeopardy at all, but my assumption entering the season was he was in line for an upgrade on the 38% of the time he played last year. Instead, he was the sixth man to see snaps at defensive tackle against the Redskins and only played 10 snaps against the Bengals. As we search for clarity on the shape and form of the defensive line, I have started to wonder if he will have as significant a role as he did last year, let alone a bigger one. This week's game will teach us more.
6. The backup linebackers. With Akeem Ayers and Zach Brown out, Moise Fokou will have backups flanking him. If either of those injuries ends up lingering, will the Titans fare better than I think they would with Patrick Bailey and Tim Shaw at OLB. Is Kamerion Wimbley an option at SLB like I think he should be?
7. The cornerback battle. If you ran a fan and media poll on who deserved to start, my guess is Alterraun Verner would get at minimum 80% of the vote. He will start tonight, but Tommie Campbell is supposed to get work with the first team defense as well. Also, when Campbell is with the first team defense does Verner or Coty Sensabaugh play the slot?
8. No injuries. First, foremost, and most important.
Recap after the game and in-depth analysis of what happened, hopefully this time actually on both sides of the ball, coming to Total Titans in due course.