<
>

Titans hoping Tajae Sharpe production extends into preseason opener

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Three spots I’ll be watching Saturday night as the Tennessee Titans face the San Diego Chargers in their preseason opener at Nissan Stadium:

Tajae Sharpe: Every date of note has been set up as a hurdle for the fifth-round receiver out of UMass to come back to earth. The start of camp. The first day in pads. The scrimmage situation at the stadium. Sharpe hasn’t flinched yet. He doesn’t run away from people, but he gets open enough, gets to the right spot and doesn’t drop passes. “We’re basically just hoping once he gets into the game, all the stuff we’ve been doing, it just flows,” offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie said. “The biggest thing for us is to just get him in the game and he doesn’t have to stand there and think; he just plays. When they blow the whistle and the game kicks off, hopefully he can just go play, just go play, just go play. We’re hoping we can get it all going, we’re hoping it’ll happen.”

The offensive line: Better protection for Marcus Mariota and a line that can help produce a smash-mouth running game were the two giant offseason points of emphasis for the Titans in the offseason. Here’s our first real glimpse of their progress in those departments. Mariota needs to not get hit. DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry need some room to run. A good effort will show the line to be on course. A poor one extends the long-standing questions.

Outside linebacker depth: Kevin Dodd could come off the PUP list on Monday. The 33rd pick in the draft is the guy the Titans added to bolster their depth after Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan. One or both of those guys could be the first defender(s) off the field, which will create early snaps for Kevin Bass and/or Deiontrez Mount and/or Nate Palmer, who also plays inside. Bass and Palmer have bigger NFL resumes than Mount, a sixth-rounder in 2015 who missed his rookie season. All three of them have looked pretty good in practice.