Titans still have plenty to learn from Patriots

  • New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady greets Tennessee Titans free safety Kevin Byard (31) after a preseason NFL football game Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. The Patriots won 22-17. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski) Mark Zaleski

  • Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel watches from the sideline in the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the New England Patriots Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/James Kenney) James Kenney

  • Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) passes as he is pressured by New England Patriots linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley (51) in the first half of a preseason NFL football game Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/James Kenney) James Kenney

Associated Press
Published: 8/18/2019 6:41:59 PM

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Titans got their chance to measure themselves against the defending Super Bowl champs with a pair of joint practices and a preseason game.

Now it’s time to get back to work as the Titans try to meet the Patriots’ standard.

“It was really beneficial for us,” quarterback Marcus Mariota said. “The opportunity again to work against an organization, you’re talking about the Super Bowl champs, so anytime you get that opportunity and to see where you stack up and continue to just build off what you’re doing I think that’s huge.”

The Titans (1-1) led New England 17-8 Saturday night at halftime and lost, 22-17, with Tom Brady watching all night from the sideline. Coach Mike Vrabel, who won three Super Bowl rings as a linebacker for the Patriots, said the past few days have been great for the Titans.

“To have a team come in here that’s a proven winner, a proven organization, how they operate, how they do things,” Vrabel said. “For us, to be able to compete against them for two days and then play a game against them is always going to be beneficial.”

Before the Titans can work on trying to reach the playoffs for the second time in three seasons, first they have to fix some issues that emerged in the loss to New England. For a second straight game, a franchise that set a team record in a 16-game season for the NFL’s fewest penalties in 2018 was flagged for double-digit penalties – this time 10 for 77 yards.

Vrabel said whether his team sees something as a penalty or not doesn’t matter to the officials.

“We have to be conscious of what they’re looking at, the mechanics they’re using to call those secondary calls, whether it be holding or illegal contact,” Vrabel said. “So, just continuing to work that stuff.”

Vrabel said Sunday that’s why the Titans will take advantage of an extra day before they host Pittsburgh (2-0) and spend Monday working on some issues. Then they will do some game-planning for the Steelers before having to wrap up the preseason with a game in Chicago on Aug. 29.

When running back Derrick Henry will return remains to be seen. Henry worked more extensively last week in his recovery from a left calf injured on the opening day of training camp. Vrabel’s focus isn’t seeing the running back in the preseason as much as having him ready for Sept. 8 when the Titans open the season at Cleveland.

“The whole goal is to make sure that Derrick’s going to be with us obviously, and it’s going to be a large part of what we do,” Vrabel said. “He’ll have to start the year like he finished it last year. Whether that means playing in the preseason or not, I’m not really sure.”

Caution this preseason has been the main focus for the Titans. That’s why receiver Adam Humphries, who left Wednesday’s practice with the Patriots early and didn’t practice Thursday, took part in warmups Saturday night yet did not play.

The Titans also held out defensive lineman Jurrell Casey along with linebackers Harold Landry III and Cameron Wake.

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