The defensive side of the football was a sore spot at times last year for the Tennessee Titans.
And a good portion of training camp has been dedicated to making that unit stronger and more diverse in terms of the types of packages that can be employed. While Jake Locker's first start will be the focal point, there are plenty of things to look for on defense as well.
Defensive ends: The Titans defensive end unit did little to reassure fans that they have improved since last season. The starting unit looked to have had jet lag and could not muster a sack against Seattle's offensive line. Quarterback Matt Flynn had plenty of time to sit back and make his reads.
It is preseason and teams generally do not game plan for opposition, but Kamerion Wimbley, Derrick Morgan and company will have to put pressure on Josh Freeman tonight if they don't want the Titans faithful to press the panic button.
Robert Johnson: Johnson has already seen more playing time this year than he did all of 2011. Defensive coordinator Jerry Gray is indeed in love with his size and physical ability, and it is time for Johnson to show if he has the mustard to hang with the big boys.
Even though Jordan Babineaux is cemented as the starting strong safety, Gray has a few different packages that call for two or more safeties such as the Ruby (3-2-6), which often features three safeties. Tonight is important for Johnson to prove he should be part of the rotation.
Linebacker: Colin McCarthy is a stud. That being said, it is important to watch the linebacker in tonight’s game.
Look to see where Akeem Ayers is at all times. The Titans plan on using him in pass rush situation just like the did last week. Due to the lack of pass rushing talent on the team Gray will have to experiment with Ayers and try to manufacture sacks that way.
Will Witherspoon and Zach Brown will be rotating in and out during different packages, Witherspoon mostly on running downs and Brown on passing downs. It will be interesting to see how they fully plan to use Brown's speed while matching him up with a tight end or slot receiver.