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Before Carolina knew what was happening it was 17–0 in favor of the Titans in this game. To be fair, Carolina was starting Derek Anderson (7-12 for 88 yards, 0 TD/1 INT). Also to be fair, it was mostly Carolina’s first team defense…and Tennessee walked up and down on that starting-ish unit with their backup skilled player but led by Marcus Mariota.
Nothing else matters in a game involving Carolina than what Christian McCaffrey does – so, we’ll start there.
Dynasty-Fantasy player notes…
— You either saw Christian McCaffrey (3-33-1, 2-39-0/3) score a touchdown live or on replay, and if you didn’t — you heard all about it on Sunday and into the beginning of the following week. There’s not a lot more I can add to it – McCaffrey got a couple good touches and outran defenders on two plays, one for a nice score. Rex Burkhead does the same exact thing on the passing play and no one cares. Bruce Ellington took over the Houston–New England game from the opening snap, made more shocking by the fact that he just joined the team – his third team in just a few weeks…and no one cares. Christian McCaffrey does some nice things and the next thing you know there is a solar eclipse in commemoration of it.
All I’ll say is this, from the note I wrote down watching McCaffrey’s very first target…what’s going to happen when the opposing team designs their entire defense to shadow Christian McCaffrey in the regular season? It’s not like he’s David Johnson or Calvin Johnson, guys who are virtually unstoppable no matter what opponents do. McCaffrey’s very good, smaller-sized running back who is going to have 11 guys watching everything he does Week 1. It’s going to be interesting to see if Carolina forces things to him or if they just let things happen naturally.
— Marcus Mariota (6-8 for 61 yards, 1 TD/0 INT) started and worked with the second-team skill players, and pretty much torched the Carolina defense. I mostly mention that to say – Mariota looks just fine post-injury and I’m feeling pretty good about our lofty rankings on him.
— You know who never satisfies me on a viewing – Derrick Henry (16-36-2, 3-17-0/4). I just never see that much to get excited about when he’s in the game getting touches. His first eight carries against a mix of first and second team Panthers defenders – 2, -4, 0, 1, 7, 4, -3, 0 yards.
I’m never watching Henry and going “Wow…they really need to force this guy more touches ahead of Demarco Murray. Henry is a nice, but limited power runner with really flimsy hands on the passing game. He just needs to work between the tackles as part of an RB-duo, but he’s really just a minimal touch guy with Murray healthy.
— A couple of young IDP’ers that are having a very good/great preseason…
Titans 2nd-year safety Kevin Byard (2 tackles) looks like a Pro Bowl safety so far in the preseason. He has a legit chance to be the #1 scoring DB in IDP this year.
Carolina second-year safety converted to linebacker Jeremy Cash (4 tackles, 1 sack, 2 TFL) continues to catch my eye this preseason. It looks like they moved him to a pure linebacker spot, an outside linebacker – and he is bulked up, moving around quickly, and making big hits on ballcarriers. Cash brings the hard-hitting of a linebacker but a lot of the fluidity of the safety. He’s really unique, and making a nice conversion to the pure outside linebacker position.
On his one sack in this game, he actually lined up as a defensive tackle, of sorts, and just did a speed rush up the gut and sidestepped a blocker effortlessly and then wrapped up the quarterback before he knew what happened. I don’t know that he’s going to start for Carolina in 2017, but I don’t know how the Panthers are going to keep him off the field either – he’s quite a weapon to possess.
— I have never been a fan of Titans’ third-year WR Tre McBride (4-73-0/5), but I have to hand it to him — he looks a lot better this year than he ever has before. A guy that was a very soft receiver coming out of William & Mary, but with all the physical tools, who looked like he was about to get bounced out of the league early on, but the Titans stuck by him and he looks a heck of a lot better than he ever has before. Good for him. He can’t crack the starting five wide receivers here, likely, but at least there’s a glimmer of hope with him now.
— Jonnu Smith (5-47-0/7) got extra time and targets in this game and looked pretty solid. He’s going to be a very nice, solid tight end for the Titans. I don’t know that he’ll be anything wild fantasy, but he’ll be OK.
— Taywan Taylor (3-41-0/4) continues to get a lot of snaps in the preseason and is making the most of them. He looks quite capable and ready to be a starter on opening day if needed.
I really like Taywan’s skills, but I do not like the outlook for targets for him with this crowded field of wide receivers.
— Damiere Byrd (0-0-0/2) went from MVP of the preseason after one week of the preseason to ghost in week two. I’m not sure what happened, but it was like wasn’t even there. Maybe they were getting some of the other guys more looks?