- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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Three things I’ll be paying special attention to Saturday evening when the Tennessee Titans play the Bengals in Cincinnati:
1. Jake Locker. The Titans checked down like crazy last week against Washington, and a ridiculously high percentage of his passing yards came after the catch. It’s a preseason game, and they hardly need to be wide open, but it would be nice for the Titans to establish that they can challenge with mid-range and deep passes, and it would be healthy for the offense to have some success in all facets. Locker needs better protection than he got in preseason Week 1.
2. Get off blocks. The first-team defense stayed blocked too long and too often in the preseason opener against Washington. Defenders need to get loose in order to make plays, particularly against the run. The Redskins (No. 1) were a far better running team than the Bengals (18th) in 2012. Whether it’s veteran BenJarvus Green-Ellis or rookie Giovani Bernard taking the handoffs, let’s see forward progress from the Titans' run defense.
3. Maintain the run effort. The Titans got big touchdown runs from Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene in the preseason opener. Overall, they ran the ball well, and that’s Item 1 on the list for forming their identity. Fernando Velasco will get the start at center, and while that position is still to be decided, the other four starters will be in place. Right tackle David Stewart didn’t play in the opener, but should play a dozen or 15 plays against the Bengals before he’s the first lineman to yield to a sub.