PHILADELPHIA – One preseason game is in the books, and it ended with plenty of things the Titans should feel good about.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota played just one series, but in short time proved he already has nice chemistry with receiver Adam Humphries, who had four quick catches.
Back-up quarterback Ryan Tannehill looked really solid in his Titan debut, throwing two touchdown passes in the first half as the Titans jumped out to the lead over the Eagles. Third-team QB Logan Woodside, well, he looked pretty good himself, tossing a pair of touchdown tosses, too.
“There were guys we wanted to evaluate, wanted to see," Titans coach Mike Vrabel said after his team's 27-10 win over the Eagles. "This is another extension of the evaluation process and trying to take the practice and carry it over to the games and see who can play with some composure to them and see who can make some plays.”
“We’ll take a look at it and move on.”
The Titans saw a pair of tight ends – MyCole Pruitt and Anthony Firkser – catch touchdown passes on a night when veteran Delanie Walker didn’t dress out, and a number of receivers also made some nice plays, including Kalif Raymond, one of the surprising stars of training camp.
All was not positive in the team’s preseason opener, however.
Cornerback Adoree’ Jackson got beat deep for a touchdown, receiver Taywan Taylor was guilty of a few drops and the Titans saw reserve linebacker Riley Bullough leave with an elbow injury. Plus, the team had way too many penalties.
But the preseason usually offers plenty of positives and negatives, right?
And on this night, the Titans played without a large number of starters.
In addition to Walker, running back Derrick Henry, linebacker Harold Landry, receiver Corey Davis, guard Rodger Saffold, linebacker Cameron Wake, defensive lineman Jurrell Casey and kicker Ryan Succop did not play, along with four of the team’s draft picks, including defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons, receiver A.J. Brown, and guard Nate Davis.
Mariota completed 4-of-8 passes for 24 yards in the game before being replaced by Tannehill at the 7-minute mark of the first quarter. Mariota guided a 10-play drive that ended with a fourth-and-seven incompletion at the Philadelphia 23-yard line. Mariota targeted Humphries on six of his eight throws, completing four of them for 24 yards. He sailed a few.
“We were able to build a little bit of rhythm, and can kind of build off that,” Mariota said.
When Tannehill entered the game, he was sharp. Tannehill completed 12-of-16 passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns – a one-yard toss to Pruitt and a 23-yard pass to Firkser - in the game, good for a passer rating of 138.0.
“It was a lot of fun. A change of scenery, right?," said Tannehill, formerly with the Dolphins. "But it was a lot of fun to get out there and compete against another team.”
Woodside replaced Tannehill at the end of the second quarter and played the entire second half. Woodside’s 25-yard touchdown pass to receiver Cody Hollister gave the Titans a 21-10 lead in the fourth quarter, and he then connected with Tanner McEvoy for a 17-yard touchdown strike to make it 27-10 with 9:37 left. Woodside finished the night 15-of-20 for 138 yards and the two scores.
“It is fun to be out there with the guys and try and go make some plays,” Woodside said. "It was awesome, to get back out there. There were some nerves at first but I feel like I settled down.”
After getting their first score on a 53-yard field goal by Jake Elliott, the Eagles scored on a 75-yard touchdown pass from Nate Sudfeld to Marken Michel, who got past a diving Jackson for the score.
But the Eagles didn't score again.
And while Raymond (six catches, 80 yards), Hollister and McEwen proved to be among the success stories of the night, it was an off night for Taylor, despite him making a pair of catches. Taylor dropped a would-be touchdown pass thrown by Tannehill, and he also failed to haul in a few passes he normally catches.
“At the end of the day I have to make those plays," Taylor said. "(The deep ball), that’s one I should have had. I have to go attack it. I definitely want to keep building on what I have been doing (in camp) and try to improve. I am my biggest critic and I know what I need to do."
The Titans will look to clean up their mistakes – they were penalized 12 times for 117 yards and missed two extra points – when they return to the practice field on Saturday.
The Titans face the New England Patriots in preseason game No.2 next week after a pair of joint practices during the week.
“It was a great experience," said Raymond. "Just an opportunity to get out there with the boys and come out with a win. It was incredible. Now as a team we need to build on this and keep getting better.”
The Tennessee Titans open the 2019 preseason against the Philadelphia Eagles Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field. (Photos: Donald Page, AP)