A wish list of some things the Titans’ defense wants to do against the Bengals:
1) Measure up — The Titans are pleased that all four preseason opponents were playoff teams in 2012 because it gives them a chance to measure where they are at against where other teams have been. Rosters change from year to year, but Cincinnati has made it to the postseason in each of the past two seasons. Derrick Morgan said the defense looks forward to playing more this week than against Washington.
“It’s good because last week we were kind of getting in our groove and they pulled us, so we’re going to have more time to get comfortable, get in the flow of the game and make some plays,” Morgan said.
Titans coach Mike Munchak said the defense may have been a little tentative in its first action in eight months, so he wants to see a more intense start, and Morgan concurred.
“When you’re on the road it’s a hostile environment and it’s just us out there so we’ve got to bond and set the tone early,” Morgan said.
2) Press him? — Reports from bengals.com are that receiver A.J. Green looked sharp in his return to full action at practice this week. The 6-foot-4, 207-pound Green is a top young receiver and one that might be good to evaluate how shifting to playing more “press man” coverage at the line of scrimmage could work out for the Titans this season. Tennessee has been alternating between Alterraun Verner, who started against Washington, and Tommie Campbell, who is scheduled to start against Cincinnati, at the cornerback spot opposite Jason McCourty. The Titans have been playing Coty Sensabaugh at nickel, and the second-year pro was first in line to replace McCourty against the Redskins.
3) Force punts — It’s only one set of preseason games, but Cincinnati converted nine of 16 third downs against Atlanta in its opener, and Washington converted eight of 15 against Tennessee. The Titans allowed 10 opponents to convert at least 42 percent of third downs last season and five opponents to convert 50 percent or more. Tennessee was 4-6 in the 10 games and 1-4 in the five games in 2012.
4) Continue to jell — The Titans are planning to use multiple defensive packages this season but are likely to keep things relatively simple against Cincinnati. That should allow players to continue to adjust to new teammates throughout the defensive line, linebackers and secondary and as a total unit.
Tennessee brought in free agents Sammie Hill, Antonio Johnson and Ropati Pitoitua on the defensive line, linebacker Moise Fokou (who is likely to start in place of Colin McCarthy for the second week in a row), and safeties Bernard Pollard and George Wilson this offseason. The Titans are also playing Karl Klug more at defensive end and Scott Solomon at linebacker, although he’s in somewhat of a hybrid role. The game should provide further opportunity to evaluate strengths of different players and how best to combine them.
Tags: Alterraun Verner, colin mccarthy, Derrick Morgan, Jason McCourty, nfl Preseason, Sammie Hill, Tennessee Titans
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