- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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Three things to watch, which all happen to be guys on offense, in tonight’s Titans game at Tampa Bay:
Jake Locker: This is his biggest chance yet. If the second-year quarterback can lead Tennessee’s offense effectively, he could seize the lead in the team’s quarterback battle. Among key areas under the microscope are his accuracy, red zone play and two-minute drill performance. If he’s in command and comfortable he will come out of the game ranking no worse than even with Matt Hasselbeck. If he’s no worse than even, he should get the nod considering he's the young guy with more upside. Ideally, a team settles position battles in time for the starters to be in place for the third preseason game. That would mean making and revealing a decision early next week.
Chris Johnson: Yes, it’s only preseason. Still, the way he can shrug off production failures is getting old. His poor effort was part of the run-game issues last year and he showed us nothing in the preseason opener a week ago in Seattle. He talked of focus issues and seemed close to dismissing whatever is or isn’t unfolding now. He can keep going in that direction if he wants the same questions to hover over him. Or he can show maximum effort and focus, take a couple carries and grab a couple passes, and show people why he shouldn’t be on the list of concerns as the season opener draws near.
Darius Reynaud: He may get some reps with the first team as a running back, and he needs to continue to show he can contribute as a situational or change-up back to have a chance to make the roster. But he has to create a niche for himself beyond that. Marc Mariani looks safe as the returner, so watch closely how Reynaud’s used on special teams and how effective he is as a gunner or a kickoff cover guy. Jamie Harper, who ranks as the No. 3 back, can make is difficult for Reynaud to win the No. 3 back spot. But maybe there could be a case for keeping a fourth.
5hEric D. Williams