Titans' O line ready for pressure from Packers

By TERESA M. WALKER - AP Pro Football Writer
    2014-08-08 12:33

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Titans left guard Andy Levitre will be playing Saturday despite having an appendectomy two weeks ago.

Center Brian Schwenke and right guard Chance Warmack are ready to show how much better they can be in their second year. And tackles Michael Roos and Michael Oher are playing well enough that rookie Taylor Lewan may spend this season on the bench.

The Titans' offensive line appears to in better shape a year after an overhaul brought in three new starters.

''We have a lot of hard workers,'' said Roos, the Titans' left tackle since 2006. ''We've been working a lot, putting in a lot of hours on the practice field. I like the way everybody's working and pushing themselves and pushing each other. ... It's the kind of stuff that builds a lot of camaraderie and friendships. I think that'll go a long way on game days.''

Their first test comes Saturday night in the preseason opener against Green Bay with Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews. The first-team offensive line expected to play approximately 15 snaps on Saturday.

Warmack, the 10th draft selection overall out of Alabama in 2013, said that's a good way to start.

''You want to get better,'' Warmack said. ''Obviously, those two are really good pass rushers and good at what they do.''

Peppers, who left Chicago for Green Bay as a free agent, had seven sacks in 2013 and ranks third among active players with 118.5 in his career. Matthews led the Packers with 7.5 sacks last season despite missing five games with a broken right thumb, and he has 50 since entering the NFL in 2009.

Matthews can't wait to see how they perform. The Packers went 8-7-1 last season winning their third straight NFC North title.

''I love the way we get after the quarterback,'' Matthews said. ''Obviously, our offense is very good, so they're going to get after their plays in practice. But more often than not you see guys flying around at the quarterback and creating some mismatches. So I like that, and it'll be good to see it against a different opponent.''

Schwenke and Levitre needed surgeries this offseason for their own injuries. Schwenke, a fourth-round draft pick out of California, didn't move into the starting lineup until the seventh game in 2013 before playing nine games. Right tackle David Stewart fought through injuries most of the season that kept him from practicing.

But the Titans only gave up 37 sacks while going 7-9 last season, tied for ninth fewest in the NFL. It's part of a tradition that has the Titans ranked fourth in the NFL for the fewest sacks per pass play allowed since 1999 trailing only Indianapolis, New Orleans and Denver in that span.

Stewart retired this offseason, so the Titans signed Oher away from Baltimore to a four-year contract in March. With Roos in the final year of his deal, they drafted Lewan at No. 11 out of Michigan in May.

Lewan has practiced at both tackle spots and at left guard while Levitre missed the first week of training camp after an appendectomy on July 24. Oher is holding firm at right tackle with Lewan listed behind Roos on the first depth chart for a unit whose goal is keeping Jake Locker as untouched as possible.

Both Schwenke and Warmack feel much more comfortable than a year ago.

''I don't know this for a fact yet because it's only my second year, but I think that gap between the first and second year is where you can make the biggest jump, especially in comfort level because I feel so much more comfortable for this season just being on the field,'' Schwenke said. ''It's a whole new me.''


AP Sports Writer Genaro C. Armas contributed to this report from Green Bay, Wisconsin.



AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL


Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker

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