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Tennessee Titans first preseason game preview

The Tennessee Titans kick off the 2012 preseason tonight against the Seahawks in Seattle. The game begins at 9 PM CT and will be on the air in the Titans local preseason affiliates and nationally with the NFL Network.

Since it’s the first preseason game, that the Titans are playing the Seahawks as opposed to some other team doesn’t matter that much-what the Titans will be doing tonight will be a function of what the Titans want to see and do much, much, much more than what the Seahawks do. With that in mind, I’ll be looking at personnel and basically ignoring scheme.

Here are the things I’ll be focusing my attention on tonight:

  • The quarterback battle. Matt Hasselbeck will start and play perhaps 10-15 snaps. Jake Locker will come in next, and I’d expect him to play about the same. For both of them, are they on the same page with the wide receivers? Do they get the ball out quickly? Preseason doesn’t normally feature many downfield throws, but still, do they take any shots? Some of these questions apply more to Locker, some to Hasselbeck.
  • Timing in the run game. Is Chris Johnson on the same page with the offensive line? Holes develop and close, and must be hit on time. That rarely happened last year. Does it happen this year? For it to happen, Johnson needs to be running hard, and holes need to be opened.
  • Can a young wide receiver make plays? In this first preseason game, receivers who didn’t get thrown the ball a lot or at all last year will get a lot of snaps. Can Marc Mariani be a factor at wideout? Can a player like Michael Preston or James Kirkendoll earn the Titans’ trust and a roster spot during any Kenny Britt suspension?
  • The defensive line mix. Who plays when? Does Pannel Egboh or Derrick Morgan start? How does Egboh look? What about guys who may be on the bubble like Sen’Derrick Marks, Shaun Smith, Malcolm Sheppard, Leger Douzable, Zach Clayton, and Scott Solomon? This is one of those times where I really wish I knew defensive lineman technique much better than I do.
  • Cornerback beyond the top two. Alterraun Verner and Jason McCourty will play a lot. Tommie Campbell got a lot of praise in the offseason for his technique work, and I’d like to see that on the field after a quieter training camp. Can Ryan Mouton earn a job? Does Terrence Wheatley make the team? Does Chris Hawkins make the team again this year?
  • The rookies. We finally get to see guys like Kendall Wright and Zach Brown in a Titans uniform. What do they do?
  • No injuries. The Bengals had four starters leave the field after receiving assistance in the first half of last night’s game. I don’t want to see that happen to the Titans.

I won’t be liveblogging the game, but I’ll probably be chiming in a lot early on Twitter, so follow me there if you like. We’ll have a brief recap up after the game, and later a more in-depth look at the things I highlighted in this post and some other things that stood out.

UPDATE (8/11/12, 2034 CT): The Titans have indicated CB Terrence Wheatley, TE Brandon Barden, and DE Dave Ball will not play in tonight’s game. Nor will WR Kenny Britt and S Markelle Martin, both of whom remain on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list.