AFC South: Will Batson
August, 23, 2012
By Paul Kuharsky | ESPN.com
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Some thoughts out of the Titans’ 32-27 win over the Arizona Cardinals at LP Field on Thursday night.
- The Cardinals wanted to test out rookie left tackle D.J. Young as they look to replace the injured Levi Brown (triceps) for the season. Young failed this test, badly, as the Titans' big defensive free agent addition Kamerion Wimbley attacked him with great effect. Wimbley sacked John Skelton on his first play and Kevin Kolb on his first. He had a couple of hurries, too. The Cardinals' entire offensive line was bad in pass protection and the Titans rushed very effectively. Jurrell Casey is really turning into a well-rounded defensive tackle. He's an absolute handful.
- Want variety? On the Titans' first four offensive plays from scrimmage, they lined up with an empty backfield, with two tight ends, with three wide receivers and with two backs. The only thing with the potential to make them predictable this season would seem to be down and distance.
- Jake Locker was victimized by drops by Javon Ringer and Nate Washington, but finished the first half having hit on just 8 of 16 passes. Completing 50 percent, he still had a 115.6 passer rating since he had 124 yards and two TDs. Connections of 28, 29 and 35 yards have a way of helping out. He made better decisions and smartly took off a few times as he felt pressure.
- On a first-quarter return, Marc Mariani suffered a gruesome broken lower left leg that was Theismann-esque. We’d been wondering about Darius Reynaud as someone putting pressure on Mariani for the return jobs. Reynaud comes out of the night as a lock to make the roster as the returner now because of Mariani’s misfortune. I don’t know whether Mariani would have been getting many, if any, receiver snaps at the expense of Kenny Britt (once healthy and when not suspended), Nate Washington, Kendall Wright, Damian Williams or even Lavelle Hawkins.
- Middle linebacker Colin McCarthy has an excellent nose for the ball. But his two interceptions of Kolb on this night were absolute gifts. The first was thrown into an area filled with Titans, and he looked like the intended receiver on the second, which he returned for a 31-yard touchdown.
- Aaron Francisco is a special-teams demon. I can’t see how he won’t be the fourth safety on this team, unless the Titans find better defensive depth elsewhere. If they do, special-teams coach Alan Lowry would surely shed a tear over losing Francisco.
- Camp leg/kicker Will Batson was 3-for-4 on field goals, but accounted for only three points. He hit a 26-yarder in the fourth quarter, only to see it wiped away by a holding call against Taylor Thompson. Then Batson hit from 36... only to see it wiped away by a holding call against... Thompson. Then Batson hit from 46 and made it to the sideline without seeing a flag. Britt greeted him excitedly.
- I don’t know what’s going on with the two-tone coloring of the Titans’ light blue uniform tops. But it’s incredibly distracting that the coloration is inconsistent from player to player. Quinn Johnson and Ringer, standing side-by-side, didn’t look like they were wearing the same jersey. Honestly. Nike, are you reading?
- The new “Titantrons” at LP Field are really impressive. It’s a big benefit of the stadium’s open-end zone configuration. -- finding room to fit giant HD video boards wasn’t an issue. Some other buildings that might want to match these won’t have a spot for them. Stadium game productions are updated and far better. But the lyrics of "Folsom Prison Blues" on the big screens, intended to produce a sing-a-long between the third and fourth quarter, appeared to fail miserably. Put that one on the shelf.
August, 12, 2012
By Paul Kuharsky | ESPN.com
Following up the Titans’ 27-17 loss in Seattle on Saturday night:
- We’re never going to read a whole bunch into a preseason performance. But Chris Johnson did nothing against the Seahawks to make anyone think he’s turned the page from his down season in 2011. Three passes were thrown his way and they all hit the ground, two of them as drops. He turned five carries into 8 yards. The backs who followed him into the Titans huddle didn’t face the same quality of defenders by any means, but Javon Ringer and Darius Reynaud were more decisive and fared better. Eddie George and Keith Bulluck, doing commentary on the Nashville broadcast of the game, thought CJ failed to press the hole on one failed run when he could have more aggressively taken on a charging safety and chose instead to overdo it laterally.
- Jake Locker was certainly a good notch better than Matt Hasselbeck, but don’t mark Hasselbeck down much for his two interceptions. The first was a fluke play where the ball stayed alive after bouncing up off Nate Washington on the first play from scrimmage and turned into a touchdown by Brandon Browner. The other was on a deep ball that Richard Sherman did better to go up and get than Damian Williams, and effectively amounted to a punt.
- Tommie Campbell’s been the third cornerback for the Titans throughout camp, but he played into the second half and lost a jump ball to Braylon Edwards. Russell Wilson put it up and Edwards allowed Campbell to go by (perhaps offering some guidance with an arm), then went up and got it for a 39-yard TD. It’s likely the kind of play Campbell can learn a great deal from at this stage.
- Showed me more than I anticipated: The defensive line overall, particularly active tackle Zach Clayton; safety Robert Johnson; rookie linebacker Zach Brown; Seattle’s backup rookie quarterback Wilson. (What a fantastic naked bootleg TD at the end.)
- Overtime shouldn’t be possible in the preseason. Bravo to Mike Munchak and special teams coach Alan Lowry for reducing the possibility by having rookie Will Batson, rather than Rob Bironas, try a 36-yard fourth-quarter field goal that could have tied it at 20-20. He narrowly missed it right with 4:46 left in the game. Not that his coaches or teammates were wanting him to misfire.