NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The wait is almost over, as the Tennessee Titans wrap up a week of practice and head to Denver for a Monday night matchup with the Broncos.
It’s been a long time since players went up against an actual opponent and guys like tight end Jonnu Smith are feeling anxious.
“It’s like the first day of school, you know when you laid your clothes out the night before. It’s the same exact feeling, and it’s an honor that I still have that privilege playing this game and I still get those butterflies,” said Smith.
The Titans enjoyed some added excitement earlier in the week, signing defensive end Jadeveon Clowney to the roster. Despite joining the team a few days before the Titans season opener, Clowney does plan on playing.
“Monday night, of course I’ll be ready. That is what I signed up for and I’m just looking forward to get back to playing,” said Clowney.
The Titans will need more than Clowney if they want to stop this Broncos offense, the secondary will have to ready from the jump dealing Broncos quarterback Drew Lock’s variety of weapons.
It all starts with his biggest target, Courtland Sutton, who is still day-to-day with a shoulder injury. However, the Broncos won’t hesitate to utilize their two rookie wide receivers that include Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler.
“Man they have some really good speed. When you look at the wide receivers that they have, obviously I’m a little bias, but Jerry Juedy is a phenomenal athlete, a good route-runner and a guys who is able to extend plays with his feet,” said Titans linebacker Rashaan Evans.
The Titans will also have their hands full with the Broncos multi-dimensional running backs Phillip Lindsay and Melvin Gordon. Denver offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur hasn’t disclosed how he’ll use them both but said, “It’s a good problem to have.”
What will be a problem for the Broncos, is slowing down the Titans offense, and it all runs through the NFL’s reigning rushing leader, Derrick Henry. With Tennessee’s offensive line intact from the jump this year, they can open up plenty of opportunities for Henry to get his motor going early and often.
If there is one Bronco in particular who is ready to stop Henry, it’s Jurrell Casey, who now wears #99 in Denver. He played a big role on defense for nine seasons in Tennessee and was a leader for the entire team.
“He was one of those players that we talk about that knows more than just his position. He was one of those players that would pay attention when I was talking to the offense about the situation in two-minute. He would dial in, even though I might be talking to an offensive player,” said Titans head coach Mike Vrabel.
Casey will be ready to go, but he’ll need help if the Broncos want to stop the rest of the Titans’ offense. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill feels comfortable in year two and his toy chest is deep with wide receivers AJ Brown, Corey Davis and Adam Humphries. Tannehill has also built some chemistry with tight end Jonnu Smith, who is poised to have a breakout season.
The Titans will also get their first look at new kicker Stephen Gostkowski, who looks to be 100 percent healthy, coming off of hip surgery this past season. And wide receiver Kalif Raymond has earned a big role on special teams, being named the starting kick and punt returner.
The Titans and Broncos start the season Monday night in Denver, kick-off set for 9:20 pm (CT).