NASHVILLE, TN- The Tennessee Titans dropped their second preseason game of 2018 on Saturday night, losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30-14. The two teams practiced together at St. Thomas Sports Park on Thursday and Friday.
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota played two drives in the first quarter, going 4 for 7 for 80 yards and a touchdown. The star of the show for the Titans, however, was wide receiver Taywan Taylor. Taylor finished the game with 4 receptions for 95 yards and 2 touchdowns.
“We have to be able to find ways to get him the football and help us” said Titans coach Mike Vrabel about Taylor, “We will continue to build his relationship with our quarterbacks and grow his knowledge of the offense. Tonight was a big step.”
Backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert played the majority of the game, finishing 10 for 16 passing with 116 yards and 1 touchdown, and third string quarterback Luke Falk entered the game late in the third quarter, finishing 8 for 12 with 64 yards.
Running back Dion Lewis showed some flashes as well. On the Titans’ second drive of the game, Lewis and Taylor combined for 74 of the 75 yards that ended with Taywan Taylor taking a Marcus Mariota screen 47 yards to the house.
Tampa Bay started Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback in place of former first overall pick Jameis Winston, who will serve a three game suspension at the start of the regular season after violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy in the offseason. Winston came in midway through the first quarter, and had quite the performance against some of the Titans’ backup defensive backs.
Winston finished 13 of 18 passing with 226 yards and 2 touchdowns in less than two quarters of play. The Buccaneers went into the break leading 20-7.
“They threw it well” said Vrabel, “He did a nice job, we weren’t able to tackle him when we had a chance to in the backfield.
“We have to able to make the plays when they are presented to us.”
Offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur called the first preseason game on the sideline in Green Bay, and was in the coaches’ box on Saturday. It has not been decided where LaFleur will be coaching from during the regular season.
“I think tonight went pretty well” said Vrabel, “The communication sounded like it was good, he was getting the calls in. I’ll talk to Matt in the morning and we’ll find out what he liked and didn’t like and I’ll give him my thoughts.”
Defensively, linebacker Jayon Brown led the way for the Titans with 7 total tackles, while linebackers Robert Spillane and Will Compton added 7 and 5, respectively.
Wide receiver Cameron Batson handled kickoffs for the Titans, taking one 44 yards.
The Titans are now 0-2 in the 2018 preseason, and travel to Pittsburgh next Saturday to play the Steelers.