Titans still addressing O-line issues as preseason ends
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans are running out of time to address their offensive line woes with the preseason winding down.
The Titans, who will be without three-time Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan for the first four games of the regular season, gave up seven sacks Sunday night in an 18-6 loss to Pittsburgh in their third exhibition game. Coach Mike Vrabel even pulled Marcus Mariota after the quarterback was sacked in the end zone for a safety on the second play of his second series to protect his starter.
“I hope that we can get them fixed,” Vrabel said Monday. “That’s why we coach, that’s why we practice, that’s why we try to instruct the guys that everybody’s on the same page. I really do mean that this is all 11 guys that are on the field.”
The performance was painfully reminiscent of last October when Baltimore set a franchise-record Baltimore set a franchise record with 11 sacks. Protecting Mariota has been a major focus after he was sacked a career-worst 42 times and missed three starters due to injuries in 2018.
The clock is ticking on the Titans (1-2) who open the season Sept. 8 at Cleveland after wrapping up the preseason Thursday night in Chicago (1-2). It also doesn’t help that the Titans aren’t ready to name their starter at right guard yet either.
“We’re going to wait,” Vrabel said. “Obviously, we’re going to try to continue to prepare and get guys in there and get some sort of rotation that we feel like we can go into the season with and be successful.”
Kevin Pamphile started against Pittsburgh at right guard, then Jamil Douglas took over when Pamphile moved to left tackle. Lewan, who lost the appeal of his suspension last week, didn’t get in the game until later as the Titans work to prepare veteran Dennis Kelly to play left tackle while Lewan is out.
Vrabel said Pamphile has done some good things and has some areas to improve.
Rookie Nate Davis, the Titans’ third-round draft pick out of Charlotte, finally was seen in the open portion of practice last week after being out since leaving practice early Aug. 1.
Asked Monday if the Titans’ best starting offensive line includes Ben Jones, who has started every game with Tennessee at center, and third-year lineman Corey Levin, Vrabel said they’re always looking for the combination that gives them the best chance to succeed.
“We’ll continue to look at that this week,” Vrabel said.
The Steelers got their first sack along with a safety when Stephon Tuitt got to Mariota in the end zone after going up the middle at Jones and left guard Rodger Saffold, the Titans’ big free agent signing in March to bolster the line. Saffold said he got picked from the right side on that play.
“The good thing is this is a preseason game so you can get it fixed,” Saffold said.
The Titans better with Myles Garrett, Olivier Vernon and Sheldon Richardson waiting in Cleveland.
Notes: Vrabel said OLB Harold Landry III is working his way and could be seen at practice this week, though the coach has not specified if the linebacker is dealing with an injury.
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