The Titans are in a period of transition.
They have a new offensive system under head coach Ken Whisenhunt, and Ray Horton is reshaping the defense to a 4-3 front despite having players better suited to play in a 3-4 system. Given the transition taking place, it’s difficult to know what to expect from Tennessee.
One thing we can be sure of, though, is that the Titans offensive line will make things difficult on New Orleans. In the past two seasons, Tennessee has spent first-round picks on tackle Taylor Lewan and right guard Chance Warmack and a fourth-rounder on Brian Schwenke, and the team has thrown big money at guard Andy Levitre and tackle Michael Oher.
Considering that some of those pieces were added to a line that finished ninth in sacks allowed with 37, it’s fair to say that any QB takedowns earned by Cameron Jordan or Junior Galette will be well-earned.
The big question is whether starting quarterback Jake Locker can take advantage of the protection and make things difficult on New Orleans’ secondary. The answer will determine whether this game is competitive while the starters are on the field.
Know your opponent
There are three players the Saints need to know on the Titans offense: wide receivers Justin Hunter and Kendall Wright and running back Bishop Sankey.
Hunter underwhelmed as a rookie, catching 18 passes for 354 yards, but he’s a talented player who should have a better sophomore campaign. Wright caught 94 passes for 1,077 yards last season, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Locker leans on him Friday as the offense continues to find its identity.
Sankey will be locking to prove that he can run the ball at this level. For now, there’s no reason to doubt him. The rookie logged 327 carries for 1,870 yards with 20 touchdowns as a junior at Washington. He also caught 28 passes for 304 yards.
If he is half as good as he was in college, Sankey could make things difficult on the Saints defense.
Roster watch: Five players to keep an eye on
K Shayne Graham
The bad news: He missed an experimental, 33-yard extra point at St. Louis. The good news: He outdueled competitor Derek Dimke in a drill Wednesday.
WR Brandon Coleman
After starting camp strongly, the rookie regressed into offseason form. He followed his intercepted drop at St. Louis with at least one bad one in drills this week.
RG Marcel Jones
He should start at right guard for injured Jahri Evans again. He fit in well, and an encore could go a long way in earning him a depth spot.
RB Travaris Cadet
Cadet wants to be a more complete player, but it was more of the same at St. Louis. He did well receiving (two grabs, 20 yards) but struggled rushing (8-9).
LB Ramon Humber
With David Hawthorne hurt, Humber should get significant snaps with the first team. Another solid outing would show he’s more than a very solid reserve.