KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A few thoughts on the Tennessee Titans’ 34-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. The game was called due to rain and lightning with 3 minutes, 50 seconds remaining:
QB depth chart: Marcus Mariota was not super-effective, but still hit on seven of his 11 throws for 99 yards. He didn’t throw his first touchdown pass of the preseason, but he did chip in with three runs for 22 yards, the most for anyone on the Titans’ starting offense. Solid but unspectacular, he minimized mistakes and guided a touchdown drive just before halftime. After a sack by Justin Houston near the Titans' sideline, Houston said something to Mariota. The typically mild-mannered QB popped up and got in Houston’s face with a response. No. 2 QB Zach Mettenberger didn't do much, hitting on three of 11 passes.
Who got hurt? Strong safety Da’Norris Searcy left the game early with a sprained right knee and was replaced by Daimion Stafford. Receiver Hakeem Nicks left the game limping before the first team exited.
Rookie watch: Receiver Dorial Green-Beckham dressed, but did not play after suffering a sprained ankle at practice on Wednesday. Running back David Cobb also didn’t play. He was out with a calf injury. Jeremiah Poutasi remained the starting right tackle and didn’t stand out good or bad. He did recover a fumble by Bishop Sankey.
When it was starters vs. starters, the Titans looked : Kind of anemic, particularly on defense. Alex Smith finished 16-of-18 for 171 yards with two touchdowns and basically did what he wanted en route to a 143.3 passer rating. Inside linebacker Zach Brown had at least three missed tackles on an off night. Pass pressure didn’t really make an appearance. Minus Mariota’s contribution, the first-team run game didn’t do much, and outside of a 30-yard Mariota-to-Kendall Wright connection, there weren’t any big plays.
A bit of a spark: The play of running back Dexter McCluster was one of a handful of good developments, with five carries for 37 yards and two catches for 20 more yards. When and how the Titans use him is a big question on offense, but he did well with his chances on a night when Cobb was out of the mix.
Don’t freak out: Ken Whisenhunt didn’t play this game as the same sort of dress rehearsal the Chiefs did. Kansas City had more rest and probably more game planning.
Bad timing: The Titans were going for it on fourth-and-1 from their own 40-yard line midway through the first quarter, but tight end Anthony Fasano jumped offside, turning it into a fourth-and-6. The Titans punted.
Uneven: Mariota missed tight end Delanie Walker late and short on a midrange pass at the end of the first quarter. Cornerback Marcus Peters appeared to interfere with Walker as he worked back to the ball. Not too long later, Titans corner Coty Sensabaugh was flagged for holding up receiver Chris Conley and drew a pass interference call. The plays looked even at best but weren’t called the same.
Encouraging: Cornerback Perrish Cox had an interception for the second game in a row. It set the Titans up for their touchdown near the end of the first half.
Discouraging: Receiver Justin Hunter still doesn't look like a guy willing or able to go up and win on contested catch situations.
What’s next: The Titans host Minnesota Thursday night at Nissan Stadium in the preseason finale and have to trim their roster to 53 two days later.