This was a good first test for the Titans. The Vikings have several new players they wanted to see and showcase. QB Donovan McNabb was brought in to fill a hole for the Vikings, and was mentioned in several circles about a possible fit here in Tennessee. However, the star of the night has to be the rookie QB for Tennessee. Jake Locker went 7 for 10 for 89 yards and 1 TD, gave hope to all who believe, and turned the heads of all those that doubted.
The 1st string offense moved the ball well, but failed to score. There is still some work to do there, but you can't discount the fact that Matt Hasselbeck is a brand new element to this offense and Chris Johnson is still a holdout. The fumble on the Titans first drive was a mistake that is easily fixable with time together.
Jake Locker looks significantly more accurate than the scouting reports and media would have you believe. He had 70% accuracy for the night, worked well under pressure, and carried himself in a confident manor with poise. When he was sacked, he pulled himself up and carried on with the next play. When he fumbled the snap, he picked it up and threw a TD pass. This guy has shown that he is more than just a good athlete.
The RB position is definitely missing something without Chris Johnson, but Ringer, Stefon Johnson, and Harper had very good nights. Ringer would have had a much better night, but penalties called back at least one of his runs. I would like to see Harper hit the hole faster, and actually initiate contact with a DB. I also want Stefon Johnson to take this opportunity to showcase what he can do, and that his freak injuries were only a speed bump in his career.
The WR's had a good night. Hawkins is showing that he is willing to go get the ball. Damien Williams is still progressing nicely, and I wish he was higher on the depth chart. Kenny Britt didn't get on the field in training camp early enough to get into game day shape, and is still nursing an injury, so he is someone we hope to look forward to having a great year. The only WR that I am concerned with is Justin Gage. He is playing like someone who is not going to be on the team at the end of camp.
Other than Locker, the bright spot of the night in my eyes was the offensive line. The starters showed some real cohesion and the backups filled in nicely. I will say there was one blip when Kropog allowed a clean sack of Locker.
Another surprise of the night was the defensive line. Derrick Morgan looked good and had a sack on the night. Both rookie Zach Clayton and rookie Karl Klug looked like they belonged in the rotation (more so of Klug). Obviously this group needs more time together, but all signs show many sacks are in their future.
The linebackers and DBs are where there is a real battle for field time. Obviously Finnegan, Griffin, and Ruud are starters, but I can see all the rest of the positions open for debate. Yes, Ayers and Hope are both probably going to start, but Ayers is a rookie and Hope is getting pressure from both free agents and rookies. The other linebacking job is a battle between Witherspoon and McRath, and the other DB roles are also in similar battles. It's going to be fun to see how they all shake out. I will say that the rookies and backup DBs were the weakest part of our game, but there is plenty of time to gel in that area.
Kern and Mariani still looked like they are ready for the season. I am a little nervous that that the only FG attempt from Bironas was wide left. I hope that is just an anomaly. I think punt and kick coverage need work, but there are numerous rookies hoping to make the team and this is there opportunity to make an impact.
I thought this was a good effort. There are obvious things that need work, but I believe that some of our questions were answered in this game.