JOE BIDDLE: Preseason hits half-way mark

(Photo: WKRN)

Saturday marks the second of four preseason games on the Titans schedule.

The first game was one for the ages, a 7-3 Titans loss to the New York Jets.

It was a game the Titans would rather forget, wipe it out of their memory banks.

They have an opportunity at Nissan Stadium to show what many of the preseason prognosticators thought of the Titans chances to be a team to be a dangerous opponent.

They predicted a double win season. They saw the Titans making the playoffs, winning the AFC South, one of the NFL’s easiest divisions.

What they thought of the Titans, they didn’t see it.  To rub it in, the Jets are predicted to finish near the bottom of the NFL’s final standings.

The Titans knew they failed to perform up to their expectations.

So they invited the Panthers to share training camp for two days and this Saturday’s preseason game.

Despite the fact that Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is not expected to play today, he was impressive in offensive drills during the two days.

Newton took the Panthers to the Super Bowl in 2015 after going 15-1 in the regular season only to fall in the Super Bowl. Last season they took an unexpected tumble, winding up 6-10 and missing the playoffs for the first time since 2012.

During the two days of working against each other, the Panthers were sharp on offense. The Titans were crisp behind quarterback Marcus Mariota, who was impressive during the two series he played.

The rest of the offense was unimpressive to say the least. A Ryan Succop field goal was the only points they could put up on the scoreboard.

So today is going to be a game that will show how much improvement they made during the week. Mariota needs to play at least a half. He has shown little evidence of the broken fibula late last season. Mariota needs to get comfortable with some new wide receivers such as Eric Decker, rookie Corey Davis, Taywon Taylor and rookie tight end Jonnu Smith.

The Titans offensive line was inconsistent. Running backs DeMarco Murray and second year back Derrick Henry need to mesh with the road-graders up front. Henry has improved with catching passes out of the backfield and getting in the defensive secondary.

Titans Coach Mike Mularkey pointed out in black and white that his players must put the Jets’ stinker behind them and make amends against the Panthers.

They have two more preseason games, Aug. 27, at Nissan Stadium against the Bears and the final dress rehearsal at Kansas City.

Some fans have already thrown up a white flag. Others are still in a wait and see mode.

Today’s game is one of show and tell. One of many.

Joe Biddle is a sports columnist. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Contact him at