Titans vs Steelers Primer

Congratulations! You’ve officially made it halfway through preseason NFL football. I know it was hard. I know at times it was painful. But you went through it, you endured it, and now you’re a better NFL fan because of it. I’m so proud of you.

We now welcome Week 3 of the NFL preseason, which is commonly referred to as the “dress rehearsal” for Week 1 of the regular season. Titans’ fans are expecting a full half of a Marcus Mariota-led offense, and based on Week 3 of the 2018 preseason, that should be what they get. A couple teams (the Bears and Colts, specifically) have come out and said they won’t be playing most of their starters this week at all, keeping with the trend of deemphasizing the preseason. But there’s been no indication from Titans’ head coach Mike Vrabel that the starters won’t get a good portion of the first-half work.

Mariota and the offense will look to have a bit more success moving the ball this year against the Steelers, after gaining just 57 yards on four drives in last year’s preseason matchup. Mariota finished with five completions on eight attempts, for 43 yards and one interception.

Titans’ fans should be encouraged by the first team offense after a better performance last week against the Patriots, but another step in the right direction against the Steelers this week would go a long way in instilling confidence as the trip to Cleveland looms in the not-too-distant future.

Steelers Offseason Moves

After missing the playoffs for the first time since 2013, the Steelers decided to move on from two of the pillars of their recent success in Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. As I’m sure most of you know, Bell held out all of last year, much to the detriment of your fantasy football team, for a new contract, which he then received from the New York Jets. Brown, who was reportedly benched in the team’s final game of the season, was traded to the Oakland Raiders. It’s now up to the young core of skill players—James Conner, JuJu Smith-Schuster—and the veteran Ben Roethlisberger to get this team back to the playoffs.

Key Additions

WR Donte Moncrief, ILB Mark Barron, LB Devin Bush (rookie), Diontae Johnson (rookie), RB Benny Snell Jr. (rookie)

Key Departures

WR Antonio Brown, RB Le’Veon Bell, TE Jesse James, RT Marcus Gilbert, SS Morgan Burnett

Reasons To Watch

Well I’m guessing if you’ve watched the first two preseason games, you don’t need any additional reasons to tune in Sunday night. But if you do, that’s why I’m here.

-This week will be the best opportunity to see what the first team offense and defense looks like before the regular season opener. Even though the product may be a bit watered down for the preseason, the pieces on the field should be close to what we see in Cleveland.

-For the first time since the opening day of training camp, Mariota was able to have his full stable of weapons on the field in practice at the same time. With Derek Henry and Jonnu Smith both returning to practice this week, there’s a small chance we’ll see Henry, Smith, Mariota, Corey Davis, AJ Brown, Adam Humphries, and Delanie Walker on the field together Sunday night. Vrabel has played it slow with previously injured players so far this season, so seeing Henry suit up this week may be a pipe dream, but hey, a guy can dream, right?

-If you’re a fan of the Black and Gold, you’ll get to see your offensive starters take the field Sunday night as well. Head coach Mike Tomlin confirmed Friday that Ben Roethlisberger will see his first action of the summer this week. So, for at least one quarter of the game Sunday night, you can close your eyes and pretend it’s a regular season game. It’ll be glorious… until Ryan Tannehill and Josh Dobbs take the field and that dream is shattered. But speaking of Josh Dobbs…

-Vols fans will be happy to see their most successful quarterback in recent memory make his way back to the Volunteer state Sunday night. Dobbs will be one of six former Volunteers to see the field Sunday night at Nissan Stadium, four for the Steelers—Dobbs, Ramon Foster, Dan McCullers, and Cameron Sutton—and two for the Titans—Quart’e Sapp and LaTroy Lewis.

Notable Titans Injury News

-As I stated above, Derek Henry returned to practice this week after dealing with a calf injury which held him out of the first two preseason games. Vrabel hasn’t said whether Henry will see his first preseason action Sunday night, but seeing him in practice all week was a step in the right direction.

-Jonnu Smith and Ryan Succop were removed from the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list this week, and both were able to practice.

-Rookie guard Nate Davis returned to practice after missing the last two weeks with an undisclosed injury. Before being sidelined, Davis was in the mix for the starting right guard position.

-Harold Landry didn’t practice all week and Vrabel hasn’t been clear on what has been keeping him out. Vrabel has just said that they hope to get Landry back on the field as soon as possible.

Where to Listen

As always, you can listen to Titans Radio’s live coverage on 104-5 The Zone and 1045thezone.com starting at 5pm CT. If you’re headed to Nissan Stadium Sunday night, stop by and see us starting at 3pm in the TitanUp Tailgate right outside the main gate on the south side of the stadium!

 

By Matt Gray

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