NFL Preseason Preview - Green Bay (0-0) at Tennessee (0-0)|
By John McMullen, NFL Editor
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Tennessee Titans will begin the Ken Whisenhunt era
by welcoming the defending NFC North champion Green Bay Packers to Music City.
The new Titans head coach is known as a bit of a "quarterback whisperer," who
did wonders for Kurt Warner in Arizona and Philip Rivers in San Diego. He was
brought to Nashville in an effort to help young quarterback Jake Locker, the
No. 8 overall pick from the 2011 draft, reach his potential.
Locker has shown signs at times, especially early last season, but he has
also struggled with injuries and consistency. If Whisenhunt is unable to put
the University of Washington product on the right path, it might be the end of
the road for him with Tennessee.
The Titans also must replace former 2,000-yard rusher Chris Johnson, as well
significantly improve the defense, specifically the back seven.
Another former UW star, 2014 second-round pick Bishop Sankey, will have every
opportunity to become Tennessee's new bell cow in the backfield. He has a lot
of Emmitt Smith qualities in that he is an all-around volume back who does
everything pretty well.
On the other side Whisenhunt's defensive coordinator, Ray Horton, will be
shifting toward a 3-4 attacking defense and veteran Shaun Phillips, who has
amassed 19 1/2 sacks over his previous two seasons, should be a consistent
presence off the edge.
"Everybody has an opportunity here," Whisenhunt said when talking about his
team. "We're going to play our best guys."
The Packers, meanwhile, are looking to defend their third consecutive division
title in 2014. A season ago, they battled to an 8-7-1 finish despite being
without star quarterback Aaron Rodgers for a significant period of time, and
edged the 8-8 Chicago Bears for first place in the NFC North.
You know Green Bay is going to be able to move the football as long as Rodgers
is under center but the defense has been a significant issue for a few years
Veteran defensive coordinator Dom Capers has looked like a coach behind the
innovation curve in recent seasons but he'll get one more chance to prove the
talent has been the issue in Green Bay, not the scheme.
The two big moves were bringing in veteran pass rusher Julius Peppers to
complement Clay Matthews on the edge, and drafting rookie safety Ha Ha
Clinton-Dix, who should end up being a significant upgrade on the back end.
This marks the ninth time since 2002 that the Packers and Titans have played
in the preseason but the first time the game won't be in the final week. From
2002-09, Green Bay and Tennessee played each other in Week 4 of the preseason
Overall, the Packers are 3-7 against the Houston/Tennessee franchise
in the preseason, with the first meeting coming on Aug. 19, 1972, in
08/07 12:04:11 ET