The Tennessee Titans take on the Seattle Seahawks in their first preseason game, tonight. Here’s what you should be watching for.
Saturday @ 10:00 pm EST on the NFL Network
- Mike Martin - Defensive MVP! Mike Martin looks like the Incredible Hulk in a Titans’ uniform…okay, actually he looks like Lou Ferrigno in a Titans uniform, but you get the point. He’s a beast at the point of attack and whether he’s at the one or the three technique tonight, he will penetrate the line.
- Matt Hasselbeck or Jake Locker - It’s Locker. There were done, right? Actually, it should be that easy, but politics will come into play. Locker is the future, Chris Johnson will perform better with Locker, and he creates more problems for the defense. The problem is that Hasselbeck is the conservative choice. If the Titans choose to go the safe route, the decision would be Matt. He’s seen everything that the defenses can show and he’ll hold back instead of taking the risk. This will seem like blasphemy, using a golf analogy to relate to football, but I’m going to try it anyways. Hasselbeck will lay up and attempt to par every hole. Locker is pulling out the wood and going all “Happy Gilmore” on the fairway. If it was me, I would tell Hasselbeck, “the price is wrong, bitch”. Added points if Mike Munchak gets Bob Barker to say it.
- Nate Washington & Kendall Wright - Nate Washington will have a huge season this year, more so if Locker is named starter. In the three games that Locker saw ample time, last year, Nate put up 22 receptions for 307 yards and 4 touchdowns. He only recorded 3 touchdowns in all the other games combined. The reports on Kendall Wright early on, was that he looked stellar at all three receiver positions. Lately, it seems as if he’s struggling. We will get to see with our own eyes how he actually looks against live bullets.
- Jason McCourty & Alterraun Verner - When Cortland Finnegan left via free agency it was all doom and gloom. The Titans seem more than content with this young duo and I don’t blame them. McCourty and Verner are legit and help cement the secondary that was able to hold onto Michael Griffin.
- Jared Cook & Taylor Thompson - I actually thought that Cook would have made a bigger splash last season, so let’s try this again. Jared Cook will have a breakout year in 2012. Over the last 3 games of 2011, Cook had 21 catches for 335 yards and a touchdown. He’ll keep that rolling into 2012. Hate to beat a dead horse (side note: what kind of saying is that? Is there anyone that would actually like to beat a dead horse & we feel the need to clarify?), but Cook could benefit from Locker as well. Taylor is raw, but naturally gifted. If he can catch up to speed, the Titans could have a devastating two tight end attack. Even if it’s not this year, going forward, the duo of Cook & Thompson will be fun to watch.
- Other Notes - Titans’ offensive line coach and Hall of Famer, Bruce Matthews could see his son, Kevin Matthews start at center this year for the Titans. Tennessee spent all offseason trying to replace Eugene Amano and now, thanks to injury, it seems as if they got their wish. Chris Johnson is definitely paying attention to the line’s situation. He had a hard time adjusting last year and it’ll be worth watching tonight to see if he’s still hesitating on his cuts. Pannel Egboh is someone I watched closely in his time at Texans’ camp. I felt that the massive defensive end had the potential to develop into a play maker. Keep an eye on Egboh as he could make a splash this year. Derrick Morgan needs the switch to come on this year and live up to his draft position of 16th overall and one pick behind Jason Pierre-Paul, back in 2010. Zach Brown is a speedy linebacker out of UNC that a lot of people were high on, coming out of the draft. I never bought into Brown as a complete package, as he showed great speed, but appeared as a liability in space. It’ll be intriguing to see if he is able to hone his skills as a tackler.
- Russell Wilson - MVP! When Wilson enters the game he should have some favorable match ups. I’m curious to see how much Seattle lines Wilson up in shotgun or gives him seven step drops. Drew Brees’ height doesn’t come into play a lot, due to the fact that he usually drops back as if he’s playing Tecmo Bowl.
- Matt Flynn - Flynn gets to take the field with the starters, well sort of. Flynn gave us such a small sample size of what he can do. He’s had two games in the last two years where his abilities were on display. While he performed extremely well, the team he was quarterbacking wasn’t lacking for talent. He’ll have a test tonight to see how he can perform with most of the Seahawks’ top receivers not in action.
- Utah State - The Seahawks picked up two players from the powerhouse school known as Utah State, this year. Robert Turbin is a powerful runner and someone who’s been through a lot. It’s hard not to pull for this kid, but I do fear his injury history. Bobby Wagner could be the man in the middle of this talented Seahawks’ defense for years to come. He has to beat out Barrett Ruud first, but that’s just a matter of time. It may not be this year, but at the latest, Wagner will be posted up next to KJ Wright next year and that’s just downright scary.
- Ricardo Lockette - The rocket could catch fire and take off tonight. Wilson should look for Lockette streaming down the sideline when they get paired together tonight.
- Zach Miller & Kellen Winslow - Miller didn’t have the season he was hoping for last year and Winslow gets another change of scenery. If Wilson wins the job, the duo would make for a nice parachute if the plane starts going down. They could really build a rookie, signal caller’s confidence.
- Other Notes – Bruce Irvin was a surprise when he went off the board to Seattle, this year. I could write all day about every player in the Seahawks’ starting defense. That talent allows Seattle to use a pick on a pass rush specialist like Irvin. They will keep him fresh and use him like their divisional rival, San Francisco, used Aldon Smith last year. Winston Guy is another rookie that fits in perfectly with what this defense is doing. He’s capable of coming down in the box and he showed quality coverage skills against the best the SEC had to offer. T.O. ______?
Jayson Braddock is an NFL Scout / NFL Writer & On-Air Personality. Jayson is also a football insider for the Dylan Gwinn show on 790 AM in Houston, TX - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports790.com. You can also catch Jayson on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio with Scott Engel and the morning crew every Thursday at 10:30am ET. You may email Jayson directly @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @JaysonBraddock