What to watch as Titans open preseason practice

Friday, July 26, 2019, Vol. 43, No. 30

Last year: Coach Mike Vrabel just missed the playoffs in his debut season despite having enough issues to distract any veteran head coach. The Titans opened with the longest game (in overall time) in NFL history, losing top pass catcher TE Delanie Walker to season-ending injury in the process. Their most-experienced receiver, Rishard Matthews, was released at his demand, and DC Dean Pees was in hospital for the loss in Indianapolis. QB Marcus Mariota also missed three starts, including the season finale with a playoff berth on line.

Important additions: LG Rodger Saffold, QB Ryan Tannehill, OLB Cameron Wake, WR Adam Humphries, DT Jeffery Simmons, WR A.J. Brown, G Nate Davis, DB Amani Hooker, LB D’Andre Walker, LB David Long, TE coach Todd Downing.

Important losses: OC Matt LaFleur, OLB Brian Orakpo, OLB Derrick Morgan, S Johnathan Cyprien, LG Quinton Spain, LG Josh Kline, QB Blaine Gabbert.

Camp needs: Both Mariota and his receivers must stay healthy to help first-time coordinator Arthur Smith prepare for the opener. Jack Conklin needs to practice and return to All-Pro status as rookie to keep his RT job or risk being replaced by Dennis Kelly. The Titans must also keep Wake healthy and see who steps up behind veteran and OLB Harold Landry III to revive outside pass rush.

Expectations: GM Jon Robinson has surrounded Mariota with the most talent he’s had in NFL. Vrabel is pushing Titans to go from good to great and will need RB Derrick Henry to start how he finished 2018. Pees’ already-stingy defense must get even better

– The Associated Press