Two NFL teams that played in the Divisional Round of their respective conference playoffs last season squared off in a regular season tune up on Saturday in Nashville. Both teams took a conservative approach as to which important players saw the field, but the Tennessee Titans defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 13-3.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Takeaways
Because of the number of veteran players they have on the roster, the Buccaneers have the luxury of experience for the older players to draw on. Of course, one of those seasoned stars is quarterback Tom Brady, who has had an extended excused absence from the organization during the month of August in order to tend to a personal matter. If there is anyone in NFL history who could skip a large chunk of training camp, not play in any preseason games and still play well when the games start to count, it is Brady.
However, there is a growing legitimate concern about the offensive linemen who will block for the 45 year old signal caller this season. Center Ryan Jensen went down with a knee injury at the very beginning of training camp, and is set to miss months of the regular season. Ali Marpet retired during the offseason, and guard Alex Cappa left Tampa Bay for a big payday with the Cincinnati Bengals. During the Buccaneers’ joint practices with Tennessee, tackle Tristan Wirfs suffered an oblique injury.
If that wasn’t enough, guard Aaron Stinnie, who was looking probable to earn a starting job this season, tore his ACL and MCL against the Titans during the preseason game. Considering the litany of injuries the team had on that unit, it was literally the last thing they needed. It will be worth watching Tampa Bay to see how they can overcome these losses up front.
Tennessee Titans Takeaways
During the 2022 NFL Draft, the Tennessee Titans made their opinion about paying a wide receiver a lucrative contract quite clear. A.J. Brown had been one of their most dynamic weapons, and was seeking a new extension that put him amongst the highest paid at his position in the NFL. Rather than fork over the money, Tennessee traded Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles, and instead invested a first round draft pick on his presumed replacement.
The player they took with that selection, Treylon Burks, has had a rocky summer to say the least. There have been reports about his physical condition coming into camp, and additional concerns about his progression with adjusting to the professional game. Burks had been playing with the second and third unit players in practice, and his preseason showings have not been stellar to say the least.
Against Tampa Bay, Burks had another forgettable outing, catching just one pass for four yards. Barring a complete turnaround in the next few weeks, it seems like the team will have to look for playmaking in a different area, perhaps from less heralded incumbent options. While Burks is just starting his NFL career and has plenty of time to dispel these concerns, the Titans will have to get creative in planning around a player who was projected to be an immediate contributor.