The Titans started their 2019 preseason on a high note, defeating the Philadelphia Eagles 27-10. With many starters playing around or less than ten snaps, the second and third team members played from the second quarter on, giving the coaches a good opportunity to evaluate the young guys. Here are five observations from the preseason opener:
Hollister Big in the 2nd Half
The wide receiver core has received plenty of attention since the start of camp. Corey Davis has made several spectacular catches, Adam Humphries has become a go-to target for Marcus Mariota, and Kalif Raymond seems to make a play every day. In the 2nd half, Cody Hollister added his name to the conversation. Hollister, in his second year out of Arkansas, caught four passes for 58 yards and grabbed a 25 yard touchdown from Logan Woodside early in the 4th quarter. After making several impressive grabs, Hollister must have a good week of practice to keep his name in the mix with this crowded receiver group.
Woodside Tosses a Pair of TDs
Logan Woodside is going to make the 2nd half of preseason games fun to watch. This is his second preseason with the Titans, but after spending the spring playing in the short lived AAF, Woodside has elevated his play. He ended the night 14 of 19, for 138 yards and two scores. The Toledo product also showed he can be productive in the run game, rushing for 17 yards on two attempts. For the last several years, the Titans have kept two quarterbacks on their active roster and placed a younger player on the practice squad. If Woodside continues to play the way he has, General Manager Jon Robinson and Head Coach Mike Vrabel might consider keeping a third quarterback.
“It’s great to be able to see those guys get in the game, take control of the huddle and throw the ball down the field,” said Vrabel.
Raymond Continues the Production
Raymond had made a good impression for himself through the first ten practices and needed to continue his success in an actual game. He did just that. Leading the team in receiving with six receptions for 80 yards, Raymond made several difficult catches in the middle of the field and paid the price after taking some big hits. Raymond was able to showcase his versability in the return game, bringing out one kickoff for 24 yards and returning three punts for 35 yards. After ten practices and a preseason game, Kalif Raymond continues to be the story of training camp.
3rd Down Conversions
Just a season ago, the Titans converted 40% of their 3rd downs, which ranked 15th in the league. On Thursday night, the Titans were 11 for 19 (58%) on 3rd downs. In his first game as offensive coordinator, Arthur Smith set up manageable 3rd downs that the offense could convert. Even when 3rd and long presented itself, the Titans were able to pick up the first. Just a slight increase in the 3rd down percentage from a year ago could extend more drives and keep the offense on the field. Although it was just one preseason game, you can be hopeful that the success on 3rd down continues throughout 2019.
In Vrabel’s first season as head coach, his squad committed the fewest amount of penalties in the NFL. A big emphasis in practices, Vrabel wants to ensure that stays the same in his second year. Unfortunately, his team did not get off on the right step to continue the clean play. The Titans committed 12 penalties in Philadelphia for a total of 117 yards. To put that in perspective, 117 penalty yards is 16% of the total amount of yards the Titans were penalized in the entire 2018 season. Several of the fouls were committed once the starters had checked out of the game, but no matter who is on the field, Vrabel wants to eliminate the penalties.
“I think the penalties clearly have to get cleaned up. I think we have to understand that we have to be able to play physical, aggressive, finish, all those types of things and not have 12 penalties,” said Vrabel.