Titans vs. Buccaneers: Jake Locker vs. Matt Hasselbeck and Best Position Battles
Friday night’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Tennessee Titans game will highlight the Jake Locker and Matt Hasselbeck quarterback competition. The quarterbacks, though, will not be the only position battle that will be on display.
Take a look at that battle and a couple others to watch for during Friday night’s action from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay.
Jake Locker vs. Matt Hasselbeck: Titans’ Starting Quarterback Duel
Quarterback controversies are only welcomed by media as it gives us something to talk about. Teams, fans and even players would be better served to know who the starting quarterback is and to begin preparing for the regular season.
Mike Munchak, the Titans head coach, has to realize that and decide sooner rather than later on who he is going to go with. Can he entrust his offense in veteran Matt Hasselbeck’s watch for another season or is a changing of the guard in order now?
Locker is pegged to start tonight against the Bucs and must perform in order to earn the trust of Munchak and his coaching staff. Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean said that the starting job, at this point, is Locker’s to lose.
His performance in the first half against an improving Tampa Bay Bucs defense will be critical to him securing the job from Hasselbeck.
Doug Martin vs. LeGarrette Blount: Bucs’ Starting Running Back Battle
While both Martin and Blount will likely be factors in the Bucs offense in one form or another, the battle to see who the every-down back becomes is still up in the air. New Bucs head coach Greg Schiano is bringing the running game back to prominence in Tampa Bay and both of these two will benefit from that.
Martin, the Bucs’ second first-round pick, brings stability to the backfield as Blount’s fumbles stalled their offense a season ago. He recorded 21 yards on seven carries and scored a touchdown in the second quarter of the team's preseason opener against the Miami Dolphins.
It was Blount, though, who got the start for the Bucs in their preseason opener. He didn’t squander the opportunity either. Running with speed and power, Blount racked up 30 yards on seven carries and crossed the goal line to cap a good first-quarter performance.
Robert Johnson vs. Jordan Babineaux: Titans’ Strong Safety
Jordan Babineaux recorded 118 tackles for the Titans in 2011. He’s a veteran and leader in the defensive backfield for the team but is in danger of losing playing time to fellow safety Robert Johnson.
According to John Glennon of The Tennessean, Johnson has been practicing with the first-team defense over the last couple of practices. Glennon does not think this will lead to him surpassing Babineaux on the depth-chart.
Johnson, a former fifth-round pick in 2010, has been slowed by injuries to this point but is beginning to emerge in the Titans’ secondary. This added playing time and the possibility of him starting Friday night will show how ready he is for live-game action against opposing teams' starting offenses.
Can he continue to bring the big plays of training camp and translate them to the field?
The Bucs' Nose Tackle Battle
Brian Price, the team’s starting nose tackle in 2011, was shipped off to the Chicago Bears after getting into an argument with rookie first-round safety Mark Barron.
To say the Bucs defense struggled against the run in 2011 would be an understatement. In fact, the defense just flat out struggled throughout all of last season. Price wasn’t a huge part of those struggles, though, and will be missed upfront for the Pewter and Gold’s defense.
Another recently added free agent, Amobi Okoye from the Chicago Bears, will likely find himself in a situational role, playing the majority of snaps on passing downs.
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