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Sunday, September 9, 2012
Coverage, QB early issues for Titans

By Paul Kuharsky

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Titans had two big issues coming into their opener against the Patriots.

Both have been magnified in the first half, which ended with New England ahead 21-3 and in complete control.

Tennessee can’t cover all of the Patriots' weapons: Ryan Mouton, either the choice at the nickel spot for this game or a guy who’s taken over as the third corner, has done well blanketing Wes Welker. But they’ve struggled with tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. Michael Griffin and Robert Johnson have been turned around and Jordan Babineaux couldn’t keep up with Gronkowski on a 2-yard TD catch.

Jake Locker looks like a first-time starter: He’s made some plays, but two bad ones have offset the good. He threw a deep duck for Nate Washington that was tipped by one defender and intercepted by another. He didn’t feel pressure near the goal line and got stripped by rookie pass-rusher Chandler Jones, watching rookie linebacker Dont'a Hightower scoop and score with the fumble. Washington dropped two passes, but Locker also missed him badly running open midrange at one point.

On the bright side: The best thing the Titans have show in these 30 minutes? Perhaps it’s the pass protection. Plenty of times Locker has had more than enough time to throw. Jones seems to be getting the better of left tackle Michael Roos, but it’s not been deadly beyond the fumble play, when Locker probably held it too long. And the interior, which was the big line question coming into the game, has held up well so far.

Stay tuned.