Observation Deck: Tennessee Titans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Since their move to Tennessee, the Tennessee Titans never went with a wholesale sit-down in the preseason finale.

Count that among the changes under Ken Whisenhunt.

Only a handful of players who will have real roles on offense or defense played Thursday night at LP Field where the Titans lost 19-3 to the Minnesota Vikings, who also sat a bunch of significant players.

The Titans’ second-team defense did a good imitation of the first-team defense this preseason, missing tackles, committing penalties and giving up a touchdown on their opponent’s first drive.

Guys we saw play in this game who will play in the regular season even if the Titans are completely healthy: Receiver Justin Hunter, running back Bishop Sankey and tight end Taylor Thompson on offense. On defense: safety George Wilson and defensive linemen DaQuan Jones, Al Woods and Karl Klug (who I expect to be on the team and get some snaps in the rotation).

Here are some other thoughts on the Titans’ fourth preseason game:

  • Rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger continued his impressive play, making assertive, well-timed throws. His primary issue is that he can hold the ball too long and not feel the pocket collapsing around him, which is what happened in the second quarter when defensive end Corey Wootton took the ball out of his throwing hand as Mettenberger cocked his arm, recording a sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery.

  • First-round draft pick Taylor Lewan had a World Cup-caliber dive in the second quarter, flopping after mild contact with Vikings defensive end Justin Trattou.

  • The Titans brought fourth-string quarterback Dominique Davis in this week, knowing they wouldn’t play Jake Locker and allowing Charlie Whitehurst to rest his injured pinkie. They gave Davis the keys to the offense with a few minutes left in the third quarter, and he threw an interception deep down the middle on his first play. He finished with two completions in five attempts for 13 yards, the pick and a passer rating of 8.3.

  • The Titans have alternated Maikon Bonani and Travis Coons throughout the first three preseason games in a kicking competition. In this game, it was all Bonani. He put two kickoffs to the back of the end zone for touchbacks, missed wide left on a 32-yard attempt when the snap was bad but the hold was fast and good, and hit from 29 yards. The way the kickers were deployed suggests Bonani has won.

  • Outside linebacker Akeem Ayers played all the way through. I don’t think he gets cut because there is no better alternative on the roster. But it sure feels like he’s a backup rather than a guy in the 3-4 rotation for a team looking for pressure off the edge.