JOE BIDDLE: Titans shine in rain

Tennessee Titans Generic
(Photo: WKRN)

Just before kickoff a typical summer rain threatened to play havoc with the Titans and Chargers preseason game at Nissan Stadium.

Not to worry.

Almost as soon as it appeared, the rain took the rest of the night off. It gave the two teams an indication of how their first teams would fare against each other.

Let’s examine the highlights for the Titans.

There are big expectations for second year quarterback Marcus Mariota. He delivered in the first and only quarter he played. He was a perfect five for five through the air with a long completion of 31 of his 45 yards. His rating was 104.2, good enough for him to take a seat. He left after the Titans had a 10-7 lead.

We got the first look at veteran running back DeMarco Murray and he didn’t let Titans fans down. Murray ran six times for 93 yards and a sizzling 71-yard touchdown run where he stiff armed Chargers safety Adrian Phillips to the ground and went on to visit the end zone.

Murray was the real deal. So was rookie wide receiver Tajae Sharpe, who earned a starting position Saturday night. Sharpe was targeted twice and caught both passes. Catching the ball is his forte, unlike a number of Titans wide receivers last season.

He was being evaluated for a concussion after he put up 35 yards with a long reception of 31 yards.

The defense gave up more yards than defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau would have liked I would think, but it’s the first time a lot of players on that side played.

In the first quarter the Titans had 138 yards of offense. The Chargers had 135.

If you were skeptical of drafting rookie running back Derrick Henry in the second round, he proved he is what he is. He is a brute of a running back and was impressive in the second quarter, putting up a touchdown run and some tough yards up the middle. The Alabama Heisman Trophy winner was a workhorse in the second quarter.

He gained 74 yards on 10 carries, with a long run of 16 yards.

Henry is going to be a perfect compliment with Murray. He can help Murray save his legs during a grueling 16 game regular season schedule.

Saturday night’s game revealed that there will be some heated competition up and down the two-deep roster. The Titans have three more preseason games to sort out who goes and who stays. It may very well get down to the final cut that produces the 53-man roster.

Preseason hopes were still very much alive after this game. The Titans led at halftime, 17-10 when both teams were matching their projected second team players. The fans were geeked up, so were the players. Both entities need to keep the fire burning.

Overall, the Titans looked sharp more times than not. When you think they have had 90 players in training camp, it has been difficult for the coaches to give everyone a fair shot of getting many reps. As a team the Titans had no penalties, no fumbles and no interceptions in the first half.

First year head coach Mike Mularkey and his staff had to be pleased with the 27-10 finish, even if it was a preseason game.

They take the next step next Saturday (2 p.m.) as Carolina visits Nissan Stadium. The Panthers were a Super Bowl team a year ago and is predicted to be in the mix again this season.

Joe Biddle is a wkrn.com sports columnist. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. He can be reached at joebiddle11@gmail.com.

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