Tennessee Titans Preseason: Rookies Give Fans Reason to Hope

Chad MintonCorrespondent IAugust 14, 2011

NASHVILLE, TN - AUGUST 13:  Jurrell Casey #99 of the Tennessee Titans recovers a fumble by the Minnesota Vikings during a preseason exhibition game at LP Field on August 13, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

It's usually not a good thing when a team is heading into a season relying heavily on rookies to play well, but that's exactly where the Tennessee Titans find themselves going into the 2011 season.

Despite getting very little time to make the huge transition from the college game to the NFL, the Titans rookies played superb in their 14-3 preseason opening win over the Minnesota Vikings.

All eyes were on Jake Locker and how he would perform in his first action as a pro, and he didn't disappoint.

Locker did an outstanding job at commanding the huddle, providing leadership, and making accurate throws. The key word there is accuracy, which is something the Titans haven't seen at quarterback in a long time.

The highlight play of the night was by far when Locker found a streaking Yamon Figurs in the endzone by throwing a laser for the touchdown.

It provided about as much excitement as you can expect in an exhibition game.

Locker finished with 89 yards passing and a quarterback rating of over 130. That quarterback rating might be the most important stat to look into if you're a stat enthusiast.

Other Titans 2011 draft picks that performed well were Jurrell Casey, Karl Klug, Jamie Harper and second-round pick Akeem Ayers.

The defense has a lot of questions surrounding it with the losses of Jason Babin and Stephen Tulloch, but Casey showed how he plans to answer some of those questions.

Casey forced and recovered a fumble that thwarted a Vikings drive. He did a great job at clogging up the middle during his time in that game, and that is crucial to a successful rush defense.

Klug was constantly seen in the backfield disrupting the quarterback, and that included a hit on Donovan McNabb early in the game.

Even though the offense was only able to produce 14 points, it was still an impressive showing from the first and second stringers.

The running game was solid for most of the night, and a lot of that can be contributed to Harper's downhill running.

He always seemed to create some sort of surge at the line of scrimmage, and that helped him finish with over three yards per carry on the night.

Harper was taken in the fourth round out of Clemson, which was somewhat of a surprise pick considering the Titans already had three solid running backs on the roster.

Then you have Ayers, who saw a lot of playing time in his first action as a pro. His best play of the night came when he leaped into the air to bat down a pass from McNabb.

One of the main reasons the Titans drafted Ayers was for his ability to drop back into coverage with his amazing athleticism, and he showcased it there.

Ayers had a great chance at being one of the starting linebackers on the outside, so expect him to see a lot of action throughout the preseason.

We can't get too carried away over a preseason game, and the first one at that. However, there's nothing wrong with being excited over how great these young guys have looked in training and in the preseason opener.

There will be plenty of growing pains with this class of rookies in 2011, but it looks like the Titans have a bright future ahead of them with this crop of young talent.

The Titans' next preseason game will take them to St.Louis to take on the Rams.