2014 DRAFT GUIDE
5 things about Titans, Vikings from preseason

By JON KRAWCZYNSKI - AP Sports Writer
    2013-08-30 03:14

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The Tennessee Titans and Minnesota Vikings both enter the regular season relying on third-year quarterbacks to make significant improvements and justify the faith both teams have showed them early in their careers.

Jake Locker, who was taken eighth overall in the 2011 draft, was coming off an injury-plagued first full season as a starter for the Titans. Christian Ponder, who was drafted four spots later, has been wildly up and down in his first two years on the job.

The preseason was important for both young players to establish rhythm, chemistry and leadership going into what could be make-or-break years for them. Here's a look at how they did, and four other things we know about each team following the preseason.

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Five things we know about the Vikings:

PONDERING THE QB: Ponder is throwing to a revamped receiving corps and has had to do most of his work with newcomers Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson in practice. He played two plays in the opener - one completion and one interception - and was up and down in more extensive playing time in Games 2 and 3. He did not play in the preseason finale and enters the regular season with plenty of question marks.

INTRIGUING ROOKIE: Patterson has shown flashes of the ability that made the Vikings pay a big price to trade back in the first round and grab the WR out of Tennessee. He needs work on his route-running, but the athleticism, speed and versatility in the return game have the Vikings excited about his future.

SUSPECT SECONDARY: The Vikings let CB Antoine Winfield, a revered veteran in the locker room, go this summer, preferring to go with a youth movement in the secondary. But Chris Cook appears to be the only reliable, veteran cornerback they have at the moment, and he has struggled with injuries and off-the-field issues early in his career. The second unit was torched by Tennessee's backup quarterbacks and receivers in the preseason finale.

DT DEPTH: Kevin Williams went down with a knee injury in the third preseason game, and coach Leslie Frazier is hopeful his six-time Pro Bowler will be ready for the opener. But there is a decent chance Williams won't be, and the Vikings have also had rookie Sharrif Floyd miss three weeks with a knee injury and Christian Ballard leave the team for personal reasons. So depth remains a concern in the middle.

WHO NEEDS PRESEASON? Adrian Peterson didn't play a down of preseason ball last year while recovering from a torn ACL, and he followed that up with a 2,000-yard season and an MVP trophy. He only played a few snaps on one drive this preseason, but there's no doubt he'll be ready to roll on Sept. 8 against the Lions.

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Five things we know about the Titans:

LOCKED IN: Titans coach Mike Munchak took the unusual approach of playing many of his offensive starters, including Locker, in the final preseason game. He wanted Locker to continue building on a solid preseason, and he did just that on an 18-play opening drive against the Vikings. For the preseason he completed 67 percent of his passes for 338 yards and one TD. ``I feel really comfortable with this group,'' Locker said. ``I like what we're doing offensively and I've got a lot of confidence in what we're doing, so I'm excited.''

MCCARTHY MENDING: LB Colin McCarthy was a defensive captain last year, but he's missed three weeks because of hamstring problems in the preseason. His action against the Vikings was his first this year, and he's trying to ramp up to get ready to help the unit when it opens at Pittsburgh on Sept. 8. He led the Titans with six tackles in the game. ``It felt great to get an opportunity during the preseason, when it doesn't really count, to go out there and knock some of the cobwebs off,'' he said.

MUNCHAK ON HOT SEAT: The Hall of Famer went 6-10 in his second season and knows that the clock is ticking. That may be why he wanted to play so many offensive players in the preseason finale. The urgency is high. ``This is my opportunity, too,'' Munchak said earlier this week. ``Only so many guys get an opportunity to do what I'm doing. I appreciate it greatly to be in this spot. I don't want to let people down, and I want to give it all I've got.''

CORNERBACK SHUFFLE: Jason McCourty is the starter at LCB. Alterraun Verner and Tommie Campbell have alternated starts on the right side. Defensive coordinator Jerry Gray said they could alternate starts between the two during the season depending on opponents. Verner struggled last week giving up a big completion to Julio Jones and was flagged twice for interference.

ZOOM ZOOM: Chris Johnson raced a cheetah as part of a cable television special in the offseason, and he hit the ground running in the preseason. After a bounce-back year in 2012, Johnson has looked prime for another big season with an impressive exhibition campaign. He rushed for 155 yards and a touchdown, averaging 7.8 yards per carry, in the preseason.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Ryan SuccopSep 1 04:22p

The Tennessee Titans signed free-agent PK Ryan Succop (Chiefs) to an undisclosed deal and released PK Travis Coons Monday, Sept. 1.

Josh ScobeeSep 1 11:43a

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Allen Robinson (hamstring), DT Sen'Derrick Marks (shoulder), PK Josh Scobee (quadriceps) and OT Zane Beadles (undisclosed) are practicing Monday, Sept. 1.

Larry DonnellSep 1 11:43a

New York Giants TE Larry Donnell is the starting tight end on the team's unofficial depth chart. TE Daniel Fells and Adrien Robinson are second- and third-string, respectively.

Quintin DempsSep 1 11:23a

New York Giants SS Quintin Demps is the lead kick returner, while WR Preston Parker is the lead punt returner.

Ben TateSep 1 10:52a

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Charles BrownSep 1 10:43a

New York Giants OT Charles Brown (shoulder) and OT James Brewer (back) returned to practice Monday, Sept. 1.

Ahmad DixonSep 1 10:22a

The Dallas Cowboys released SS Ahmad Dixon.

Lonnie PryorSep 1 09:52a

The Buffalo Bills signed free-agent FB Lonnie Pryor (Buccaneers) and OG D.J. Morrell (Rams) to the practice squad.

Tony HillsSep 1 09:32a

The Miami Dolphins signed free-agent LB David Hinds (Titans), TE Jacob Maxwell (Lions), CB Lowell Rose (Chargers) and WR Tommy Streeter (Buccaneers) to the practice squad. C Sam Brenner, [ More ]

Emil IgwenaguSep 1 03:53a

In addition to the previously announced signings of TE Michael Egnew and RB George Winn, the Detroit Lions inked OG Rodney Austin, FB Emil Igwenagu, S Nate Ness, WR [ More ]

Chase FordSep 1 03:42a

Nine players were signed to the Minnesota Vikings practice squad on Sunday, Aug. 31. Players joining the squad include RB Joe Banyard, WR Kain Colter, DT Isame Faciane, TE [ More ]

D.J. SmithSep 1 03:33a

The Carolina Panthers brought 10 players onto their practice squad on Sunday, Aug. 31. Players signed were CB Carrington Byndom, LB Adarius Glanton, WR Tavarres King, SS Robert Lester, [ More ]

Trevin WadeSep 1 03:22a

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Champ BaileySep 1 02:52a

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Dee MillinerSep 1 01:02a

New York Jets CB Darrin Walls and FS Antonio Allen could start at cornerback Week 1 because of the injury to CB Dee Milliner (ankle).

Jeromey ClarySep 1 12:23a

San Diego Chargers OG Jeromey Clary (shoulder, hip) underwent hip surgery around a week ago, and his status for the 2014 season is uncertain, according to sources. Clary has [ More ]

Ryan SuccopSep 1 12:12a

Free-agent PK Ryan Succop (Chiefs) is receiving significant interest from the Tennessee Titans and could sign with them as early as Monday, Sept. 1, according to a source.

Kenjon BarnerSep 1 12:02a

Philadelphia Eagles RB Kenjon Barner (ankle) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Sunday, Aug. 31, after he was waived/injured Saturday, Aug. 30.

Vincent BrownSep 1 12:02a

San Diego Chargers WR Vincent Brown (calf) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Sunday, Aug. 31, after he was waived/injured Saturday, Aug. 30.

DeMarcus Van DykeAug 31 11:52p

Kansas City Chiefs CB DeMarcus Van Dyke (undisclosed) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Sunday, Aug. 31, after he was waived/injured Saturday, Aug. 30.

Jake StoneburnerAug 31 11:32p

Green Bay Packers TE Jake Stoneburner (undisclosed) and OT Aaron Adams (knee) were placed on the Reserve/Injured list Sunday, Aug. 31, after they were waived/injured Saturday, Aug. 30.

M.D. JenningsAug 31 11:22p

Chicago Bears FS M.D. Jennings (undisclosed) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Sunday, Aug. 31, after he was waived/injured Saturday, Aug. 30.

Steve VallosAug 31 10:33p

The Tennessee Titans released C Steve Vallos Sunday, Aug. 31.

Damian WilliamsAug 31 10:22p

The Miami Dolphins released WR Damian Williams Sunday, Aug. 31.

Mike ThomasAug 31 10:12p

The Houston Texans released WR Mike Thomas Sunday, Aug. 31.

Duke IhenachoAug 31 09:53p

The Washington Redskins have claimed SS Duke Ihenacho off waivers from the Denver Broncos.

Brandon HarrisAug 31 09:53p

The Tennessee Titans have claimed WR T.J. Graham off waivers from the Buffalo Bills, WR Kris Durham from the Detroit Lions and CB Brandon Harris from the Houston Texans.

Garrett GilkeyAug 31 09:42p

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have claimed OG Garrett Gilkey off waivers from the Cleveland Browns.

MarQueis GrayAug 31 09:32p

The Minnesota Vikings have claimed TE MarQueis Gray off waivers from the Cleveland Browns and OT Michael X. Harris from the San Diego Chargers.

Brandian RossAug 31 09:22p

The Miami Dolphins have claimed CB Brandian Ross off waivers from the Oakland Raiders.

Mickey ShulerAug 31 09:12p

The Jacksonville Jaguars have claimed TE Mickey Shuler off waivers from the Atlanta Falcons.

Damaris JohnsonAug 31 09:12p

The Houston Texans have claimed OT Jeff Adams off waivers from the Tennessee Titans, WR Damaris Johnson from the Philadelphia Eagles and CB Darryl Morris from the San Francisco 49ers.

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