Last season the Tennessee Titans stumbled to a 6-10 mark in the AFC South, but as the Steelers get set to take on the Titans in the opener Sunday, let’s get to know the Titans and what five things in our scouting report the Steelers should look for this Sunday.
1. Shoring Up The Line – If Chris Johnson is going to have a big 2013, it will be because of the adjustments that the Titans made this offseason in their offensive line. They signed former Buffalo guard Andy Levitre to a huge 6-year, $46.8 million deal, and spent the No. 10 overall selection on Chance Warmack, who could be a stud for them on the line.
Tackles Michael Roos and David Stewart combined to allow just six sacks in 2012, and the team has a new center in Rob Turner, the weak link in the starting five. This unit will test the Steelers D-line and linebackers.
2. What About Locker? - Titans QB Jake Locker enters his third season under center for the Titans, and while he showed some good things, he was also pretty inconsistent at times, and against a Dick LeBeau D, the Steelers need to pressure him and confuse him in coverages.
He will try to flare the ball out a lot and just Johnson a lot in the passing game, and it would be best for the Steelers to make sure someone watches Johnson out of the backfield at all times.
3. Secondary Will Be Tested – The Titans have some big name WR’s that can go downfield, with Kenny Britt and Kendall Wright pairing along with second-round selection Justin Hunter and tight end Delanie Walker. These four could give the Steelers fits if their defense doesn’t get to Locker or put pressure on him.
Look for Locker to try to go deep a couple times to both Britt and Wright, and for Ike Taylor and Cortez Allen, they have to watch out for both. Don’t forget Nate Washington, another player in the mix for the Titans the Steelers know all about.
4. Corners Can Be Beat – The Titans will go with 2010 4th round pick Alterraun Verner at one corner spot Sunday, and on the other side is 2009 6th round pick Jason McCourty, and these are two players the Steelers should be able to throw on.
Verner started last season at CB, but had to beat out Tommie Campbell for the job in 2013. Last season in the Steelers 26-23 loss to the Titans, Ben Roethlisberger threw for 363 yards with a TD and a pick. He could put up big numbers Sunday vs the Titans again.
5. Watch The OLB’s - Zach Brown and Akeem Ayers are not household names, but both had 5.5 sacks last season, and can stop the run and put pressure on the QB.
The Titans play a 3-4 defense, and their two outside OLB’s are asked to do a lot, and both will be counted on to make plays on each side of the field vs the Steelers. It will be Pittsburgh’s job to make sure to keep them both in check.