Titans head coach hopes to calm rookies’ nerves before first NFL preseason game against Jets.
George Walker IV/ USA Today Network – Tennessee
Three things to watch when the Titans face the Jets in the preseason opener Saturday night in East Rutherford, N.J.
The franchise quarterback will start and play in a game for the first time since breaking his right leg on Dec. 24 in Jacksonville, and with the red practice jersey off, probably will take his first hit in live game action. How does he respond?
Mariota required surgery on his fractured right fibula and spent the offseason rehabbing. He was limited during offseason workouts but has been a full practice participant in training camp and has looked good both passing and running the ball.
Mariota probably will play no more than a series or two behind an offensive line that returns all five starters. His new targets this year include former Jets wide receiver Eric Decker, first-round rookie Corey Davis and third-round rookie Taywan Taylor. Davis, the fifth overall pick in the draft, is week-to-week with a hamstring injury and will not play.
Jackson was drafted out of Southern Cal with the 18th overall pick in the first round after being named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and winning the Jim Thorpe Award as the top defensive back in college football.
The 5-foot-10, 185-pound cornerback has been running with the second team on defense, but he should be able to make a handful of big plays against Jets quarterbacks Josh McCown, Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty, not to mention New York’s lowly receiving corps.
Jackson has looked explosive returning kickoffs and punts. He tied the NCAA record for most career touchdown returns, scoring on four kickoffs, four punts and an interception.
The second-year outside linebacker, drafted 33rd overall out of Clemson in 2016, is finally healthy after two surgeries to repair a stress fracture in his right foot and eager to get back on the field.
The 6-foot-5, 277-pound pass rusher managed just one sack and five tackles in nine games last season, before being placed on injured reserve. He needed a second operation in January.
Dodd, along with veteran Erik Walden, will back up starting outside linebackers Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan this season.
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FIRST PRESEASON GAME
TITANS (0-0) at JETS (0-0)
When: 6:30 p.m. CDT Saturday