A win is a win, even if it is in the preseason. Following a dominant 23-3 victory against the Atlanta Falcons, the Titans get set to face another NFC South opponent, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Buccaneers come into this matchup dropping their preseason opener 19-14 to the Cincinnati Bengals. The defending Super Bowl champions return all 22 starters from a year ago, but the question for this meeting is how many of those starters will we actually see on the field.
That brings up the question: which week becomes the new “Dress Rehearsal” game? Typically Week 3 in the old format was when starters received the most playing time in the preseason. With players such as QB Ryan Tannehill, RB Derrick Henry, and the entire offensive line not playing in Atlanta last Friday, how will Titans head coach Mike Vrabel distribute playing time against the Bucs?
Another storyline to keep in mind as we move along in the preseason is mandatory roster reductions. The roster was trimmed from 90 players to 85 earlier this week and another mandatory cut, this time to 80, has to occur by next Tuesday at 3 p.m. CT. A big performance late in the game could help someone stick around for another week.
Tennessee Titans (1-0) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1)
Game Time: 6:30pm CST
Location: Tampa, FL (Raymond James Stadium)
TV: WKRN-News 2
TV Broadcast Crew: Dan Hellie, Charles Davis, Cory Curtis
Radio: Titans Radio, 104-5 The Zone
Radio Broadcast Crew: Mike Keith, Dave McGinnis, Amie Wells, Rhett Bryan
Referee: Jerome Boger
Line: Tampa Bay -1
Over/ Under: 35.5
Three Things to Watch
Chippiness on Both Sides: As training camp rolls along, the passing of each day marks one less opportunity for players to make a name for themselves on the football field. There are only a handful of spots at the backend of the roster, so the level of competition for each individual player vying for a spot should be to the max. After Thursday’s joint practice with the Buccaneers, that was pretty evident, as no less than four minor altercations took place. These two teams have seen each other since Wednesday, so let’s see if they got it out of their systems on Thursday or if some of that chippiness finds its way inside Raymond James Stadium on Saturday night.
Can Rogers Stack Quality Performances: After spending the majority of the 2020 NFL season on the Titans practice squad, WR Chester Rogers has made his case for being on the 53-man roster in 2021. Rogers, who spent the first four years of his career with the Indianapolis Colts, has consistently made plays throughout training camp, including a 57 yard punt return in the preseason opener at Atlanta. As of now, it seems Rogers has earned his way onto the roster, but another good outing under the bright lights on Saturday night should leave no doubt.
Applying Pressure to Bucs QBs: With a total of just 19 quarterback sacks in 2020, the Titans made it a point of emphasis to improve their pass rush this offseason. Additions of OLB Bud Dupree and DL Denico Autry in free agency, plus OLB Rashad Weaver being drafted in the 4th round of the 2021 NFL Draft have put the pieces in place to have success. While both Dupree and Autry did not play in Atlanta last week and the Falcons were not at full strength on offense, it was a promising start with five total sacks, with Weaver having 1.5 himself. Obviously it will mean more if this production takes place during the regular season, but it is not a bad thing if the trend continues against the defending Super Bowl champions.