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VOL. 41 | NO. 32 | Friday, August 11, 2017

Titans at Jets: What to watch

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The preseason isn’t at all like the NFL regular season. Beginning sometime about halfway through the third quarter, you’ll hear names like Manny Abad, Denzel Johnson and Giovanni Pascascio called and wonder aloud, “Who are these guys?”

So, while we await the regular season, here are az few things to watch for in the preseason opener as we anticipate the Sept. 10 season opener against the Raiders.

Hope that the starters look good – especially the defense. The Jets are being pegged by almost everyone to be one of the worst teams in the league this year, especially on offense with Josh McCown, Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenburg vying to be the starting QB. That means that the Titans defense (and the revamped secondary) have a chance to shine during the two or three series they get before retiring to the sideline.

Watch for unheralded guys to stand out. Today’s preseason fourth quarter standout might be tomorrow’s practice squad player with the chance to develop into an eventual member of the 53-man roster. Remember, guys like Drew Bennett and Cortland Finnegan were long shots when they showed up and began making lots of plays in practice and preseason. A handful of long shots to keep an eye on based on their practice play – cornerback Jeremy Boykins, wide receiver Mekele McKay and nose tackle DeAngelo Brown.

Evaluate Alex Tanney. Tanney is a guy the Titans like, but is there room for three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. He is out of practice squad eligibility in Tennessee, which means he would have to either unseat veteran Matt Cassel to be the No. 2 quarterback or show enough to force his way in as a third quarterback. Either way, Tanney is a guy to watch each week this preseason.

Veterans on the bubble. Guys like receivers Harry Douglas and Eric Weems, tight end Jace Amaro and linebacker Justin Staples are not locks for the 53-man roster. They can show their value in the preseason, enhancing their chances of sticking on the final roster, or be supplanted by younger players.

-- Terry McCormick