Titans Toppled by Big Plays; Fall to Vikings in Opener 25-16

Minnesota Vikings v Tennessee Titans

The Tennessee Titans made sure Adrian Peterson wouldn’t hurt them.

So the Minnesota defense took control.

Eric Kendricks returned an interception 77 yards for a touchdown late in the third quarter and Danielle Hunter scored a 24-yard TD off a fumble return and the Vikings beat Tennessee 25-16 in their season opener Sunday.

The Vikings forced three turnovers in the span of just under seven minutes and also had two sacks.

“The defense came through for us and made some big plays,” Peterson said. “They pretty much bailed us out today.”

The defending NFC North champs needed the help from their defense in scoring 25 straight points after being shut out in the first half with the NFL’s 2015 rushing leader smothered.

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Vikings at Titans NFL Week One Capsule



STREAKS 5 of past 6  
COACHES VS. OPP. Mike Zimmer: 0-0 Mike Mularkey: 0-1
LAST GAME 10/07/12: Titans 7 at Vikings 30. Minnesota QB Christian Ponder throws for 258 yards & 2 TDs. Vikings WR Percy Harvin has 108 receiving yards & scores 2 TDs (1 rec., 1 rush).
LAST GAME AT SITE 09/28/08: Titans 30, Vikings 17. Tennessee rushes for 3 TDs led by RBs Chris Johnson (2) & LenDale White (1). Titans’ defense forces 4 turnovers (3 FR, 1 INT) & records 4 sacks.
REFEREE Walt Coleman
BROADCAST FOX (1:00 PM ET): Dick Stockton, Chris Spielman, Krista Pink (Field reporter). SIRIUS: 136 (Min), 121 (Ten). XM: 226 (Min), 228 (Ten).

2015 STATS

PASSING Sam Bradford (Phi.): 346-532-3725-19-14-86.4 Marcus Mariota: 230-370-2818-19-10-91.5
RUSHING Adrian Peterson: 327-1485 (1L)-4.5-11 (T1L) DeMarco Murray (Phi.): 193-702-3.6-6
RECEIVING Stefon Diggs: 52-720-13.8-4 Delanie Walker (TE): 94-1088-11.6-6
OFFENSE 321.2 311.8
TAKE/GIVE +5 -14
DEFENSE 344.2 342.2
SACKS Everson Griffen: 10.5 Jurrell Casey, Brian Orakpo: 7
INTs Terence Newman: 3 4 tied: 1
PUNTING Jeff Locke: 41.6 Brett Kern: 47.4
KICKING Blair Walsh: 135 (33/37 PAT; 34/39 FG) Ryan Succop: 71 (29/31 PAT; 14/16 FG)


VIKINGS: Won NFC North last season, 1st division title since 2009…QB SAM BRADFORD passed for career-high 3,725 yards with 19 TDs last year with Phi. Set single-season Eagles records for comp. (346) & comp. pct. (65.03)…RB ADRIAN PETERSON led NFL in rushing (1,485 yards) & tied for NFL lead with 11 rush TDs last year. Is 1 of 3 in NFL history (HOFers MARION MOTLEY & CURTIS MARTIN) to lead NFL in rushing at 30+ years old…WR STEFON DIGGS led NFC rookies with 720 rec. yards & ranked 2nd with 52 catches in 2015. KR-WR CORDARRELLE PATTERSON led NFL with 31.8 KR avg. & 2 KR-TDs last year. Since entering NFL in 2013, leads NFL with 30.1 KR avg. & 4 KR-TDs…DE EVERSON GRIFFEN reached 10+ sacks (10.5) for 2nd consecutive season in 2015. LB ERIC KENDRICKS led team with 92 tackles last year. LB ANTHONY BARR had 67 tackles last year & has 65+ tackles in each of 1st 2 NFL seasons. CB TERENCE NEWMAN (12) led club in PD & INT (3) in 2015, his most INT in season since 2011 (4 with Dal.)… TITANS: MIKE MULARKEY was named 18th head coach in team history in Jan…QB MARCUS MARIOTA had 4 games with 3+ TD passes in 2015, tying PEYTON MANNING for most by rookie. Became only rookie in NFL history to have 2 games with 4+ pass TDs & 0 INTs…RB DE MARCO MURRAY makes Ten. debut. Since 2013, leads all active players with 28 rush TDs & is 2nd with 3,668 rush yards. RB DERRICK HENRY was selected No. 45 overall in 2016 NFL Draft. Won 2015 Heisman Trophy at Alabama…TE DELANIE WALKER set franchise TE records with 94 catches & 1,088 rec. yards last year. WR ANDRE JOHNSON joins Ten. & is active leader in catches (1,053) and rec. yards (14,100). Averages 76.2 rec. yards per game, 4th best mark in NFL history (min. 100 games)…Since 2013, DT JURRELL CASEY has 22.5 sacks, 2nd most by NFL DT. LB BRIAN ORAKPO has 47 career sacks & needs 3 to reach 50. S RASHAD JOHNSON joins Ten. from Az. Is only player in NFL with 15+ INTs (15) & 3+ INT-TDs (3) since 2012 (incl. playoffs).

Titans Roster Cuts Include RB Bishop Sankey and WR Justin Hunter

Bishop Sankey

The Titans have released linebacker J.R. Tavai as they begin trimming the roster to 53 players. Jason Wolf and John Glennon of the Tennessean report.

The Titans must reduce their roster from 75 to 53 players by 3 p.m. Saturday, and a couple of notable names are on the bubble, none bigger than former second-round draft picks Justin Hunter and Bishop Sankey.

Hunter, the former University of Tennessee wide receiver, has not recorded 30 catches or 500 yards in any of his first three seasons since being drafted 34th overall in 2013. He played the bulk of the Titans’ 21-10 victory in the preseason finale against the Dolphins on Thursday night, finishing with three catches on five targets for 27 yards.

“I’m really at peace,” Hunter said. “I feel like I did good this camp, this preseason, so whatever happens happens. I’m not going to be mad about something if something doesn’t go my way or anything like that. But I’m hoping for the best. I can’t do nothing but wait. I feel like I still got to study plays, just in case I do make it or whatnot. But I’m just going to be chilling with my kids.”

Sankey, the first running back drafted in 2014, with the 54th overall pick, fell out of favor with the coaching staff last season and is buried on the depth chart behind DeMarco Murray, Derrick Henry, Dexter McCluster and apparently Antonio Andrews. He didn’t touch the ball until the second half Thursday and finished with 25 yards on eight carries. Sankey didn’t receive a carry in the previous game against the Raiders.

Earlier in the week, Sankey said he believed he still had the ability to be a starting running back in the NFL.

“Oh, yeah. Definitely. Definitely. Without a doubt,” he said. “I believe that about myself.”

Ken Whisenhunt To Face Former Team For First Time


The San Diego Chargers will face the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night in what will be Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt’s first trip back to Tennessee after getting fired last year. With the Chargers missing out on the playoffs last year, the team’s management feels Whisenhunt will be able to get their offense back on track and help the team get back into the playoffs. However, Vegas oddsmakers aren’t jumping on San Diego’s bandwagon yet because the team has one of the worst NFL betting predictions for the upcoming season.

Whisenhunt, who led the Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl in 2008, was hired by Tennessee to turn things around, but he never had the magic he had at Arizona, and finished with a 3-20 record before being fired by the Titans.

The Titans drafted quarterback Jake Locker, whom they hoped Whisenhunt could coach into a franchise quarterback, but the often injured Locker never turned out to be as good as the team had hoped and retired last year.

While Whisenhunt was coaching the Titans, the team also didn’t have a consistent running game because Chris Johnson was never the same after signing his big contract extension. With the injuries, the team dealt with and the underperformance of his players, the Titans decided they needed a new start and fresh face in charge of the team, and hired Mike Mularkey to take Whisenhunt’s place.

Despite the disappointing stint in Tennessee, Whisenhunt was able to get the Chargers to hire him. The Chargers are hoping the Whisenhunt success as an offensive coordinator will continue with their team. For his part, Whisenhunt knows that a successful campaign with the Chargers will likely help him get another head coaching job, which is why the Chargers are one of the sleeper teams to watch this year.

When speaking to reporters about his return to the team he used to coach, Whisenhunt said going back to Tennessee is tough for him because he loves the city and the fans because they have always been good to him.

The former Titans coach was grateful for the time he spent in Tennessee, his players, and staff. While he said he was disappointed they didn’t win more games during his tenure at Tennessee, Whisenhunt said he was proud that his players never gave up and continued playing hard for him.

Despite Whisenhunt getting the blame for the Titans underperformance during his time as the coach, the blame for the team’s struggles can’t be put on just him. Whisenhunt had to deal with an unstable ownership situation and a terrible roster, which was put together by former Titans general manager Ruston Webster.

However, Whisenhunt does deserve some blame for not doing enough to protect his quarterbacks or alter his system to fit the personnel that he had. There are some people in the organization that still believe he did not take his fair share of the blame.

Second-year quarterback Marcus Mariota, who played for Whisenhunt before he was fired during the season, said it would be different seeing his coach as a member of the Chargers, but he is looking forward to it because he has a lot of respect for his former coach.

Veteran Wide Out Andre Johnson Looks to Have a Big Impact on the Young Titans in 2016

Andre Johnson

If there’s one skill position veteran that could really give the young Tennessee Titans a lift in 2016, it’s that of wide out Andre Johnson, a player Titans fans use to cringe having to watch make plays against them twice per season.

Johnson is now on his third AFC South team, as after his time with the Texans he spent a rather quiet season with the Indianapolis Colts in 2015.

Now at 35 years old, he’s hoping for one more good run catching passes from second-year superstar in the making QB Marcus Mariota, and is hoping to make the Titans into winners in 2016 in the process.

“I am feeling pretty good,’’ Johnson said Monday to the Titans official website. “As far as days practicing, this is the most consecutive days I have practiced in a few years. My body is feeling good. I am just doing what I need to do to be ready for opening day.”

Johnson has been easing his way into more playing time this camp and preseason for Tennessee, and thus far has two grabs for 15 yards. He played a total of 15 offensive snaps for the Titans in their second preseason game this past weekend against the Chargers.

A veteran like Johnson doesn’t have much to prove in the preseason other than to get his legs under him for a long season ahead. Titans head coach Mike Mularkey seems just fine in letting Johnson work at his own pace this camp.

“I have seen him every day,’’ Mularkey said of Johnson. “I can promise you, in the last five years he hasn’t practiced every day in training camp like he has here, and he hasn’t blinked.”

There’s no need to rush out and play a guy 40-50 snaps in a preseason game who has amassed 1,053 catches, 14,100 receiving yards and 68 touchdowns, and the Titans and Johnson are both playing it safe in that regard.

Don’t lose sight of Johnson, as he’s a player that can have a duel impact on this Titans team in 2016 – one of a playmaker on offense, as well as a solid leader in terms of the locker room during the week as well as during Tennessee Titans games in 2016.

Some Observations From Titans Training Camp


The Tennessee Titans made a lot of moves in the offseason and are currently NFL football odds dark horses to win the AFC South. Since the team starts its preseason this week, we decided to take a look at some of the things fans should expect from the Titans this season.

For the first preseason game, the Titans will start Quinton Spain at the left guard position. The team might decide to move someone else to the position and give Spain some time to learn the position, but it seems like the coaches have chosen to go with Spain as the starter because they don’t seem too impressed with their backups.

Derrick Henry will be better than most people think, and showed why the team was eager to draft him during practice when he knocked linebacker Nate Palmer, who appeared poised to deliver a big hit, to the ground. Henry’s size and speed will give the team a change of pace runner that will compliment DeMarco Murray.

The Titans have too many tight ends on their roster and have some tough choices to make before the start of the season. Delanie Walker, Anthony Fasano, and Craig Stevens will most likely be on the opening day roster, but it is unclear if the team intends to keep four or five tight ends on their final roster. Phillip Supernaw has the potential to be a solid contributor, but he needs to be more disciplined after getting six penalties in his limited appearances last year. The team cannot afford to keep him around if they feel his decision making is questionable.

Because of the height advantage, he will have over defenders, Dorial Green-Beckham will likely be a favorite red-zone fade target for Marcus Mariota.

DeMarco Murray and Andre Johnson won’t see a lot of playing time during the preseason. Murray, who was acquired in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles after a disappointing season, is looking to bounce back and prove last season was a fluke, and will try to lobby for some playing time. However, head coach Mike Mularkey said he will try to limit Murray’s snaps during the preseason. Mularkey said Johnson will see even less time than Murray because he has already seen what the receiver can do over the course of his career.

Steve Hutchinson, who finished his career with the Titans after playing for the Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks, is working with the Titans during training camp as a part of the pro scouting department. After training camp is over, the Hutchinson and the Titans will get together to decide if he wants to be part of the staff on a full-time basis.

Bishop Sankey, who was the first running back taken in the 2014 draft has a lot of work to do if he wants to make the final roster. With Henry and Murray on the team, it will be hard for him to get some playing time when the season starts, which is why Coach Mularkey said he would give Sankey some extra reps against the San Diego Chargers in their first preseason game.

Marcus Mariota worked with five different receivers against no defense this week. He missed Green-Beckham from 10 yards away and took responsibility for the error. By admitting the mistake was his fault, Mariota showed his teammates he isn’t the type of player that will try to deflect the blame on others when things aren’t going well for the team, which is what good leaders are supposed to do.

Titans Acquire OL Dennis Kelly From Philadelphia for WR Dorial Green-Beckham

Dennis Kelly

The Titans have a new offensive lineman to try out, as the team made a deal Tuesday with the Philadelphia Eagles for OL Dennis Kelly.

In return the Titans sent wide out Dorial Green-Beckham to the Eagles.

“Not to speak on Philly’s behalf but they inquired about it,” Titans general manager Robinson said on the team’s website. “They thought it was a good opportunity for him, and we thought adding Dennis would be good for our football team. We are moving on. I appreciate everything Dorial did when he was here. He bought in to what we were trying to do. But in the end we felt like this was the best decision for the team.”

Green-Beckham recorded 32 catches for 549 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie in 2015. He finished fifth among rookie receivers for receiving yards.

Kelly has started 15 games for the Eagles since being draft in 2012. He played in 14 games last season, making two starts at right tackle.

Marcus Mariota Not Happy with Performance During Scrimmage

Marcus Mariota

Marcus Mariota was critical of his performance after the Titans’ intrasquad scrimmage Monday night at Nissan Stadium, Jason Wolf of the Tennessean reports.

The second-year quarterback was notably intercepted by safety Daimion Stafford and also called for a false start.

“It’s unacceptable, my play today,” Mariota said. “I can’t be turning the ball over like that. I’ve got to be putting these guys in better situations. But all in all I’m glad we were able to come out and finish the drives that we did, and we had a pretty good red zone (drill) as well.”

Stafford intercepted a Mariota pass intended for tight end Craig Stevens in the first half. Stafford, a 2013 seventh-round pick who backs up strong safety Da’Norris Searcy and contributes on special teams, returned it roughly 20 yards. He started two games last season, one each at strong and free safety.