Obviously eyes will be on Jake Locker as he makes his first NFL start. He is expected to play 20 to 25 plays. Matt Hasselbeck will also get more playing time against the Buccaneers. A big topic of the offseason, this will be the more talked about competition no doubt. Beyond the battle for the starting quarterback job, there are 3 other major areas to watch.
First, and far less sexy than the QB battle, but pay close attention to special teams play. Roughly half the roster will make the team based on how well they play on special teams. This year the return spot is particularly important as guys like Darius Reynaud and Marc Mariani could make the roster based on how well they do there.
I will be paying particular attention to the defensive tackle position. My questions regarding who is starting and why are documented in a previous post here: http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=5226664462782435636#editor/target=post;postID=5176098429557328828. I would like to see rookie DT Mike Martin get some playing time as well. I want to see how Zach Clayton performs as well. The DE rotation bears watching as well as it is unclear whether Derrick Morgan is starting again. Pay attention to how he and Pannell Egboh, Leger Douzable, Keyunta Dawson, and Scott Solomon split reps.
The offensive line is also an area to watch. Obviously the center position is of particular note with Fernando Velasco now the starting center, but Kevin Matthews, Chris Morris, and William Vlachos should see action as well. I hope tackle Byron Stingley plays as I would like to see him in action during a game. He has great size and athleticism. I wonder how many plays our new offensive linemen Michael Jasper and Jonathan Palmer will play.
This is the most exciting group of wide receivers in Titans history that I can recall, and there are some young guys who could make this roster since we are moving to a more pass oriented offense. Munchak has indicated he plans to run 5 wide receiver sets so I expect the Titans to carry 6 if not 7 wide receivers. Washington, Britt, Williams and Wright are locks. That leaves room for 2 or 3 more receivers so this is a big game for the rest. I particularly want to see Michael Preston and La’Quinton Evans play as they have made an impression on me in camp. DJ Woods is an interesting prospect too. Darius Reynaud could possibly take one of the wide receiver slots if he wins the return slot.