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Notebook: Running Tandem Gains Steam

Posted Aug 18, 2013

For the second time in as many preseason games, the Titans offered a glimpse of the potential that Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene have of working in tandem.

Unlike the first preseason game, however, when Johnson set the pace with a long TD and Greene followed suit with a scoring play, Johnson’s best run of the night occurred after Greene had pounded the ball for some tough yards on Tennessee’s fourth possession.

The Titans handed off to Shonn Greene six times in a seven-play span before giving the ball to Chris Johnson for two solid gains against Cincinnati.
Click here for a slideshow from the game.

The Titans gave Greene the ball six times in a span of seven plays. He gained eight yards on his first carry and followed with gains of 1, 2, 2, 9 and 7. The gain of 9 was preceded by a 13-yard completion to Kenny Britt, and the gain of 7 was followed by runs of 17 and 6 yards on consecutive carries by Johnson, who had 10 yards on his first five carries but added two receptions for 16 yards on the opening possession.

“He got some tough yards,” Johnson said. “Anytime you have guys running downhill, like Shonn Greene and Jackie Battle, little guys don’t want to hit.”

The Titans brought in Battle in the third quarter as their third-string running back, and he finished with 58 yards on 12 carries. Tennessee was pleased with the way it moved the ball but frustrated that it didn’t yield more points thanks to drops on two passes that would have converted third downs and three missed field goals.

“If you sit and look at the game, you may think we didn’t have a very good day,” Johnson said. “Like I said, we had a good day. We just didn’t finish. We’ve got to learn to finish and capitalize on mistakes. When the defense gives us the ball, we have to come away with points. We have time to keep working.”

Tennessee made six trips inside the Cincinnati 30-yard line and came away with one touchdown and two field goals.

“I think that it’s great that we’re moving the ball on a consistent basis,” QB Jake Locker said. “We are finding ways to get down there to have opportunities to score points. We have to find ways to score touchdowns when we get down there because, as you know, it can change the momentum of the game when you score seven instead of three. We have to get a little better when we get down there and be a little sharper, and make the plays that are there to be made to convert on some of those drives.”

Locker completed his first five passes for 49 yards and finished 12-for-20 for 116 yards. He completed four passes for 44 yards to Nate Washington and four passes for 44 yards to Kendall Wright, who was carted off with a knee injury he suffered late in the first half while making his fourth catch. 

Titans coach Mike Munchak said he didn’t have all the information about Wright’s condition after the game but is likely to have more info by his press conference Sunday afternoon.

“He was walking around so you take that as a good sign, but we will just have to wait and see,” Munchak said.

ANKLE SIDELINES AYERS: Wright wasn’t the only player to leave the surface at Paul Brown Stadium via a medical cart. Linebacker Akeem Ayers departed after suffering an ankle injury in the first half.

“He got kicked in the ankle I think,” Munchak said. “I don’t think it’s a sprain so much as a bruise but we just don’t really know. He is up walking around so that’s a good sign, too.”

DOWNERS ON THIRD DOWNS: Tennessee held Cincinnati to 6-for-13 on third downs (46 percent), but that rate could have been much more favorable. All six conversions occurred with the Bengals needing at least five yards to move the sticks, and three needed at least 10.

“They converted some tough situations on third down, and we missed some tackles,” Munchak said. “It was a combination of them making plays and us not and limiting some of their plays. Again, that’s a thing as a team we have to find a way to rise up on some of those drives and make some plays and hold some of those drives to field goals like they did to us.”

STARTED: Tommie Campbell started instead of Alterraun Verner at right cornerback. The two have been in competition in camp to see who will be tabbed for the job opposite Jason McCourty.

Munchak and Campbell were each asked how the night went, and the coach said he wanted to review the film.

“It’s hard for me to evaluate on the sideline how he is playing on every snap,” Munchak said. “The obvious play is the play where the guy scored the touchdown, but we will have to see after we watch the tape.”

Campbell said he thought he played better than he did as a reserve against Washington, but said there’s still room for improvement.

“It was a lot better, compared to last week,” Campbell said. “I was a lot more comfortable. I felt a lot better. I’m kind of upset at myself, because I gave up the touchdown. It was a good throw. It is what it is.”

Fernando Velasco started at center in continuing the competition at that position with Rob Turner, who started against the Redskins, veteran Chris Spencer and rookie Brian Schwenke, who did not play because of lingering issues with a hamstring. Collin Mooney started in place of Quinn Johnson at fullback, and Moise Fokou started at middle linebacker in place of Colin McCarthy.

TD TOSSES: Ryan Fitzpatrick replaced Locker and went 9-for-13 passing for 136 yards and touchdowns of 4 yards to Brandon Barden and 46 yards to Michael Preston. Fitzpatrick also connected with Damian Williams for four receptions for 65 yards.

MORE P.T. NEXT WEEK: Munchak said he expects the starters will play into the third quarter when Tennessee hosts Atlanta on Aug. 24 at LP Field. He said he thought the multiple scenarios the Titans faced against the Bengals will be beneficial this season.

“I think they got a lot of plays, which was good and we needed it,” Munchak said. “You need to be in these types of situations, you want to be in adversity and when things weren’t exactly clicking, we were. You would rather things click and we score 35 points but we didn’t. We put ourselves in position to do that and that’s the encouraging part, that we are making plays and moving the chains on the road against a good football team.”

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