A wish list of some things the Titans’ defense wants to do against the Falcons:
1) Improve tackling — Titans defenders knew preseason games would be the best (and pretty much only opportunity) to tackle because of the limitations on full-contact during the offseason. They expected some mistakes and technical issues but also know that those won’t fly when they begin the regular season at Pittsburgh on Sept. 8. Tennessee put Cincinnati in multiple third-and-long situations last week but allowed the Bengals to convert 6 of 13 third downs. All six that were converted required at least five yards, and three required gains of at least 10. The first such mistake turned what appeared to be a stop on third-and-10 into a 24-yard gain that set up the Bengals’ first TD.
2) Manning up by next man up — Tennessee has encountered multiple injuries on defense but nothing that appears to threaten the season for any player. The Titans, however, will be without Sammie Hill (elbow), Ropati Pitoitua (hand), Akeem Ayers (ankle) and Zach Brown (foot) among its starting front seven defenders. Hill and Pitoitua were brought in to beef up the defensive line and stop the run on early downs in opponents’ possessions. Antonio Johnson will fill in for Hill, and the Titans will use a combo of rookie Lavar Edwards and smaller third-year pro Karl Klug in place of Pitoitua. Tennessee will likely use Patrick Bailey in Ayers’ place in its base defense and Kamerion Wimbley on passing situations, and is likely to start Tim Shaw in place of Brown. It will be interesting to see how Tennessee does against running back Stephen Jackson, the NFL’s active leading rusher, who was signed to accompany a strong passing attack.
3) Defend the Falcons’ passing attack — Although the Titans think the Falcons are unlikely to show much of its scheme, Atlanta is also likely to play most of its starters into the third quarter. Tennessee will need to blend pass rush and coverage by the secondary against 2012 Pro Bowl QB Matt Ryan, WR Julio Jones and TE Tony Gonzalez. The Falcons also have Roddy White, who didn’t join those three in Honolulu but did have 92 receptions for 1,351 yards and seven TDs last season. The Falcons frequently incorporate three-receiver sets, so that should allow the Titans’ nickel and other sub packages a considerable amount of work.
4) Pick a corner — The Titans plan to start Alterraun Verner at right cornerback but also have Tommie Campbell play approximately a quarter with the first team. The two have competed for the starting job that is opposite Jason McCourty, and coaches would like to have that decision made after this game. Defensive coordinator Jerry Gray said right cornerback will have ample opportunities to make impact plays this season because he thinks teams will be more likely to throw to that side of the field than McCourty’s.
Tags: akeem ayers, Alterraun Verner, Antonio Johnson, Jason McCourty, nfl Preseason, Ropati Pitoitua, Sammie Hill, Tennessee, Tennessee Titans
Posted in titansonline.com Blog | 3 Comments »