In an era of NFL game play where passing has been the dominant method of moving the ball down the field, Thursday’s preseason game between the Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens features two teams who calibrate their offense a little bit differently. Both teams finished in the top five of the league in rushing attempts, total rushing yards and rushing yards per game during the 2021 season. It will be interesting to watch teams with unique styles square off in the preseason opener for both franchises.
It was announced very early on in training camp that star running back Derrick Henry would not appear in any of Tennessee’s preseason tune-ups. The Titans have instead decided to manage Henry’s preparation for the season with a determined intention to keep their most talented offensive player healthy for 18 weeks and through the postseason. As a result, fans can expect a lot of Dontrell Hilliard, Hassan Haskins and Trenton Cannon on Thursday night. The team is likely hoping that one of those backs will stand out, so Henry can be spelled every now and again when the real games begin.
Even though Tennessee’s offensive strategy will likely continue to remain run-heavy, they will still need to be effective in the air to keep defenses honest. One of the keys to the Titans’ season this year will be the development of rookie wide receiver Treylon Burks, who the team selected in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. The trade of A.J. Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles leaves Tennessee with a dearth of weapons through the air, and Burks will be relied upon to fill the void in his first NFL season.
The Ravens also like to deploy the run, but versatile quarterback Lamar Jackson will not suit up for the Titans game. He has not yet signed an extension with Baltimore, and the lack of long term security for one of the most dynamic players in the NFL has been a topic of conversation during the offseason. Different versions of the narrative intimate that the franchise has been willing to offer their quarterback a lucrative contract, but Jackson has delayed that agreement in order to continue focusing on getting better on the field.
Whatever the case may be, Jackson’s rushing ability, and who he will hand the ball off to will be a storyline to monitor. Running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Dobbins both tore their ACL before the start of the 2021 season, and are in a race against the clock to be ready for the start of this campaign. Neither back is expected to appear in the preseason, which may leave August work to veteran Mike Davis and 2019 fourth round pick Justice Hill, who is recovering from his own leg injury. Because the Ravens like to keep the ball on the ground, any player who shows out during the summer might have a path to relevant touches when the season begins given the team’s injury situation.
Quick info Titans vs Ravens
- Game: Tennessee Titans vs Baltimore Ravens
- When: Thursday, August 11 at 7:30 p.m. ET
- Stadium: M&T Bank Stadium
- How to watch:
- Last game: Baltimore Ravens 20 vs. Tennessee Titans 13 (January 09, 2021)
Titans vs Ravens predictions & picks
- Prediction: Ravens -3.5 (-110)
- Prediction: Under 31.5 (-110)
- Best bet: Ravens -3.5 (-110)
Result: Tennessee Titans 10 vs Baltimore Ravens 23
Game insights: Malik Willis had a mixed performance in his first NFL game. He showed good athleticism and arm strength, but also needs to improve his timing and pocket awareness.
Jordan Stout had a good game punting for the Ravens, with an average of 47.8 yards on four punts.