NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints both have opened preseason games by driving the field for touchdowns against the Tennessee Titans.
Not with Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees on the field, but their backups.
It’s causing flashbacks to the Titans’ struggles in the recent past, not the stingy, physical unit Tennessee wants with new defensive coordinator Ray Horton. The Titans overcame the early touchdown to beat the Packers, but lost 31-24 to the Saints on Friday night.
“The first drive we had some mistakes,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said Saturday. “We some communication errors. We had some technique errors. We got those addressed after the first drive and did a decent job after that. But those are the things that we’ve got to do a better job of starting.”
Whisenhunt also downplayed the first preseason game, played mostly in a heavy downpour. Being indoors in New Orleans gave the Titans coaches a much better chance to evaluate players.
But the Titans still allowed the Saints to drive 80 yards over 16 plays. Luke McCown was 6 of 10 passing on the drive that chewed up the first 6 minutes, 30 seconds.
But Whisenhunt gave credit to the Saints being in their offensive system so long they operate very efficiently. Whisenhunt also noticed a number of missed tackles even after the Titans made some corrections. One he cited was on a throw to Jimmy Graham to the flat they missed allowing the Saints tight end to gain 7 more yards.
“There’s a lot of those things that tie together, and we’ve just got to work to clean those things up,” Whisenhunt said.
The Titans started Zach Brown at inside linebacker a week after he came off the bench as punishment for a team rule violation. They also started Blidi Wreh-Wilson at cornerback alternating with Coty Sensabaugh in the competition to replace Pro Bowler Alterraun Verner.
The competition is continuing, but Whisenhunt wasn’t happy with the number of deep balls the Titans allowed. Ten Saints had a catch of at least 11 yards. Joseph Morgan caught a 52-yarder and had a 44-yarder with Sensabaugh making the tackle on both.
“We gave up too many of those last night, and that’s one of the things that we’ve got to eliminate,” Whisenhunt said.
Tennessee has two preseason games left, including a trip to Atlanta next Aug. 23, before the season opens Sept. 7 at Kansas City. Whisenhunt said he thinks the Titans are ahead in some areas and probably not as far along as he’d hope in others at this point.
“We’ll get better as we get into these games,” he said. “We’ve got to get better starting these games out. Some of the mistakes we’re making, but we can’t lose sight of the plays we’re making in these games. We’re doing some good things.”
Jake Locker did leave the game with a 10-7 lead, completing 8 of 11 passes for 75 yards and a touchdown. Former LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger came in quicker than expected when Charlie Whitehurst hurt his right hand, and the rookie was 20 of 25 for 269 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
Whisenhunt did not have an update on players injured in New Orleans because the Titans had not reported yet Saturday. He also did not have an update on LB Colin McCarthy, who shared a picture of himself recovering Friday from surgery on his left shoulder.
McCarthy had been set for a second opinion next week. ... On the kicking competition, Whisenhunt said, “Good question” when asked whether Travis Coons or Maikon Bonani is ahead.