No Chris Johnson, No Problem for Tennessee Titans in Preseason Opener

Daniel BarnesCorrespondent IIIAugust 14, 2011

NASHVILLE, TN - AUGUST 13:  Quarterback Jake Locker #10 of the Tennessee Titans drops back to pass against the Minnesota Vikings during a preseason game at LP Field on August 13, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

It was just a preseason game, and it was against the Minnesota Vikings, but the Tennessee Titans looked good in their 14-3 win.

Both Jake Locker and Matt Hasselbeck were consistent and relaxed.

Shockingly, Locker was also pretty accurate, completing seven passes in 10 attempts for 89 yards and a touchdown. He also recovered his only fumble, which he then turned into that touchdown.

Not a bad start for a quarterback who's biggest problem is said to be accuracy.

Hasselbeck showed the same kind of poise that one would expect from a 35-year-old veteran. He completed five of his six attempts for 55 yards.

The real story of the game, though, was the Titans rushing attack.

Playing without Chris Johnson, the Titans rotated a number of running backs. Rookie fourth-rounder Jamie Harper looked like a solid third-down back, going 27 yards on eight attempts and grabbing a touchdown.

Herb Donaldson got nearly as many yards, going 23 yards on six attempts.

The highest averages among the rushers came from Javon Ringer and, surprisingly, Marc Mariani. Ringer rushed only three times for a healthy 17 yards (5.7 yards per attempt), and Mariani got an impressive 11 yards from his first and only rush.

Mariani also appeared briefly in the passing game, catching one pass for eight yards.

With Mariani's quickness, I think Titans fans can expect him to be a much bigger part of the offense this season, seeing a little time at both receiver and at running back. In his limited preseason time, he looked promising at both positions.

On defense, the newest Titans looked impressive as well.

Jurrell Casey forced his first fumble, Zach Taylor got his first sack, Jason Babineaux grabbed the game's only interception, returning it for 20 yards, and Colin McCarthy tallied one tackle and four assists.

Veteran linebacker Gerald McGrath led the team with three tackles and assists.

Last year's first-round pick, Derrick Morgan, looked ready to step up, tying McGrath's three tackles and getting a sack to boot.

Overall, the Titans looked organized and disciplined.

It'd be foolish to make many judgments based on a single preseason game, but from what the Titans have shown so far, they may already be a better team than they were last year.