Reasons to Pay Attention to the Whole Preseason Opener: By Alex Abernathy

We’ve all been there before. As fans, we get all excited for the first preseason game because it means football is back. It’s Christmas in August… For about a while. Once Mariota, Walker, and Byard begin taking their spots on the bench for the remainder of the night, we quickly start to lose interest. Then we come to a crossroads. Watch the rest of the game (while listening to Mike Keith on the radio of course) or flip over to Netflix and continue binging the new season of Last Chance U?

 

The answer is clear. Watch the Titans. Like a lot of football fans, you probably haven’t had time to go watch every practice and research every non-starter. That’s why we did it for you. Here are our reasons to watch the second half of Titans preseason games this year.

 

Young Wide Receivers: Two undrafted wide receivers to pay attention to are #87 Jordan Veasy and #80 Deontay Burnett. Both receivers have set themselves apart from the other undrafted talent at the position and each of them have caught a lot of balls on the second team and occasionally on the first team. The likelihood of both players making the roster is slim, but there is a good chance that one of these guys could be dressing out in the regular season. Stylistically, the receivers are very different. Burnett is 6 foot, 186 pounds and quick. Veasy is 6 foot 3 inches, 221 pounds. He can go up above defenders and muscle the ball away. One thing to note is that both of these players would be viewed as a project for the Titans rather than an impact now kind of guy. Veasy did not start playing football until his senior year of high school and moved up through the junior college ranks to a power five school (Cal) and now is in an NFL training camp. If he can improve from not playing football to having a chance to be on an NFL roster in only five years, then his potential could be very high as he gains more high level experience. Burnett also has a high ceiling. He is only 20 years old and won’t turn 21 until midway through the season. He was one of the youngest players available in the draft this year. Despite being the youngest player on the field, he has shown no intimidation during camp and continues to make plays. Burnett has also added versatility to his game by being the primary kickoff returner during practice. The choice between these two players may not even be made by production this preseason, but who shows the most potential. Either way, watching these two battle for a position is definitely worth the watch.

 

Running Backs: The top two running backs are essentially set in stone. Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry look to be a two headed monster and will both carry substantial loads for this offense. But who is going to be the third player that adds depth at that position? There’s the player that’s been around #32 David Fluellen and the two undrafted free agents #38 Akrum Wadley and #39 Dalyn Dawkins. Fluellen has been on the Titans for 2 years, but has only recorded 4 regular season carries in his tenure which leaves the door open for him to be replaced. Wadley comes in after being a star at Iowa and being named the “shiftiest runner in college football.” He has impressed in training camp so far and is already splitting reps with Fluellen on the second team. The dark horse candidate for the position is Dalyn Dawkins out of Colorado State. Don’t count him out though. Dawkins comes from a football family (his father played for the Saints) and proved his durability in college being a workhorse running back. Games where he hovered around 30 carries were the norm for Dawkins last season. One, maybe even two, of these men will definitely be dressed out on Sundays this fall, which one is still very much in the air.

 

The Feel Good Story: Joseph Este is a long shot to make the Titans, but he’s definitely a guy to pull for in the later parts of preseason games. The cornerback out of Tennessee Martin has quite the story on and off the field. Off the field, Este took on the responsibility of two children at a young age. When he was 20 years old, Este legally adopted his sister’s two sons to raise while he was competing as a student athlete. His sister had become relatively absent from her elementary school age sons’ lives so Este took it upon himself to be a role model for the two children and keep them out of the child services system. On the field, Este did not originally attend college to play football, but eventually joined the team at Co-Lin Community College which led to him transferring to Tennessee Martin to finish out his career. To catch Este’s full, detailed story including pieces from our interview with him, tune into Titans Radio for the pregame coverage before the preseason game against the Vikings.

 

Tonight the Titans face off against the Packers in Green Bay. As the starters start to roll off the field, there’s no need to change the channel or the station on your radio dial. There are these three and plenty of other storylines to follow with this rookie class. So whether you’re on the couch watching or listening to the Voice of the Titans, Mike Keith, you may be just as entertained by the second half as the first.

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