Bears at Titans: What to watch

Friday, August 25, 2017, Vol. 41, No. 34

Starters playing longer. If you only watch one preseason game each year, Week 3 is the one to see (Sunday, noon, Fox). You’ll see Marcus Mariota and probably the rest of the Titans’ starters for at least a half and maybe even a series in the third quarter.

The important thing to watch for here, if you’re looking to see who might make the roster, is who plays early and who doesn’t – even on special teams. Those guys who run down to cover the first kickoff or the first punt are guys who just might have the inside track to the final few roster spots.

Wide receiver pecking order. The Titans have been racked by injuries at receiver in the preseason. Against Carolina, they were missing Corey Davis, Tajae Sharpe, Eric Decker and Rishard Matthews (excused for personal reasons). That has created additional reps for players like Harry Douglas and Tre McBride, both of whom looked like goners at the start of camp.

Matthews, and perhaps Decker and Sharpe, could be back this week. So, keep an eye on Douglas, McBride and returner Eric Weems because the battle for the sixth receiver spot will be interesting.

How much can Adoree’ Jackson handle? The first-round pick has locked up the punt return job and might be the kickoff returner, as well.

Mike Mularkey says the plan is to increase his defensive reps this week, meaning he could see time very early (maybe even first team) at cornerback or nickelback. Jackson has shown himself to be a playmaker, but the Titans have to make sure they don’t overload him in the early going.

On the nose. The Titans were not satisfied with the play of nose tackle Al Woods last season and cut him, signing Sylvester Williams to take his spot. But Williams is getting some unexpected competition in camp from 2016 undrafted Antwaun Woods and undrafted rookie DeAngelo Brown, both of whom have drawn praise from Mike Mularkey.

The Titans are so deep on the defensive line that some good football players who can play in the NFL won’t make this roster.

Terry McCormick