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Titans top Packers, 20-16, in preseason opener

Just a quick post for now, but the Titans picked up another preseason win at LP Field, coming away with a rain-soaked 20-16 win over the Green Bay Packers. Three backs-Shonn Greene and Jackie Battle on the ground, plus Bishop Sankey through the air from Zach Mettenberger-provided the three Titans scores, while the Packers couldn’t find the end zone outside of their first drive of each half.

It’s always hard to know what to take away from a first preseason game, and this one was harder to interpret than most as the rain made a definite impact. Ball security as an issue for both teams, including the center-snap exchange and on kicks and punts. Footing wasn’t much of an issue at times, but both teams saw their receivers fail to haul in catchable balls. It wasn’t pretty.

But when the starters (such as they were, with notable Packers including Aaron Rodgers and Eddie Lacy not playing) in there, Green Bay marched down the field against the first-string defense. That drive went mostly on the ground, and while it’s hard to judge off the stream of a preseason telecast without replays, it seemed like run fits and tackling were big issues. Installing a new defense, the former is not a surprise, while some measure of the latter is to be expected (but not welcomed) in a first preseason game. If only the Titans first-string offense had had as much success. The run game actually went okay, with both Shonn Greene and Dexter McCluster doing some good work. Greene’s TD came after a muffed punt gave the Titans great field position.

I’ll dive into the game in great detail tomorrow, but one thing that stood out was Zaviar Gooden getting the start at ILB over Zach Brown. It looked like there was a real battle there, with both players playing with both the first- and second-team units. (EDIT: Brown apparently broke a team rule, pissed off Ken Whisenhunt, and got benched for it. Bad Zach.) Brown had a couple splash plays, as is his wont, while I didn’t notice much out of Gooden. Maikon Bonani missed an extra point, which looked like it had a bad snap and hold. None of the depth receivers stood out to me-Marc Mariani got the work in the return game (not that anything much happened with it) and failed to haul in some non-easy catches. Derrick Morgan broke up a pass in coverage. Most players provided enough to support whatever you already believed, which means nothing off a first viewing.

Two down notes in particular: center/guard Chris Spencer suffered an ankle injury that saw him be helped off the field and then carted to the locker room, while Colin McCarthy hurt his shoulder and was forced from the game. Of the two, I’d guess Spencer’s is the more serious, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Titans add a center if he’s out for more than a couple days. This isn’t McCarthy’s first shoulder injury. We’ll see how quickly he is able to recover (EDIT: per Ken Whisenhunt, he’s out for a significant period), but it probably makes what I thought was already an uphill battle to earn a roster spot even tougher.

Lots more to come on this game Monday, after I rewatch it seriously.