Titans wrap up preseason with 19-3 loss to Vikings

By TERESA M. WALKER - AP Pro Football Writer
    2014-08-28 23:26

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Tennessee Titans certainly are happy the preseason is over, and now they can only hope the weather's better on their home field in the regular season.

Rookie Zach Mettenberger got his first NFL start in the Titans' preseason finale, and he was sacked three times with one fumble as Tennessee lost 19-3 to Minnesota with the first half played in a downpour. The first half of their preseason opener also was played in a heavy rain.

Lightning less than 3 miles away delayed the kickoff of Temple at Vanderbilt about 90 minutes.

''It's tough because we had two halves essentially washed out because of weather here, so we lost part of our evaluation,'' coach Ken Whisenhunt said of his first preseason in Tennessee. ''But ... we've had an awful lot of snaps, competitive snaps. We hope, we feel like we made a lot of progress.''

The Titans wound up 2-2 in the preseason, and Whisenhunt made sure his starters stayed safe for the season opener Sept. 7 in Kansas City. He not only sat his starters but wound up not playing 31 Titans.

''We are a team that we're going to be ready to go,'' safety Bernard Pollard said. ''Coach gave us time to rest, so there's no doubt in my mind how we're going to show up when it comes opening ... in Kansas City.''

Teddy Bridgewater threw a touchdown in his first NFL start, Joe Banyard ran for 111 yards and the Vikings (4-0) finished its seventh undefeated season and first since 2001.

''More than the record indicates I feel good about the way we've performed,'' Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. ''We've taken care of the football and not made a lot of mistakes. We haven't been a big penalty team. We seem to be doing the right things. It's always nice to win. To me, it's how are we playing. Hopefully that will carry us on.''

Titans quarterback Jake Locker and the Vikings' Matt Cassel both dressed and warmed up. Minnesota also went with its rookie in Bridgewater and running back Adrian Peterson warmed up, but sat a fourth straight preseason game.

Those starters watched teammates finish up, many holding towels over their heads against the rain. Defensive lineman Jurrell Casey, who signed a $36 million extension Wednesday after not holding out, at least got some action in high-fiving the Titans as they ran into the field for kickoff.

''A lot of players and a lot of coaches respect me for the way I handled myself,'' Casey said. ''At the end of the day, I've always told everyone that's not my style. I like to play football, and that's what I've come to do. The money will come if you work hard.''

Banyard did most of the damage, ripping through the Titans' backups over and over again. Banyard had 69 yards on 11 carries in the first quarter alone, and the second-year pro out of Texas-El Paso who has never carried in the regular season made his case with all 111 yards on 18 carries in the first half.

Mettenberger, a sixth-round draft pick out of LSU, came in having thrown for more yards than anyone else this preseason. He was 12 of 17 for 154 yards. Dominique Davis took over for the Titans late in the third quarter, and the quarterback signed Tuesday threw deep on his first play and was intercepted by Julian Posey.

''It was a great opportunity to get out there and get some reps,'' Mettenberger said. ''It's unfortunate how the game kind of played out.''

Notes: Former Titans linebacker Tim Shaw was recognized in the second quarter. He announced last week he has ALS and took the Ice Bucket Challenge again. He later accepted a donation from the Titans for ALS. ... Titans DE Marcus Dixon had two sacks, both of Ponder. ... Maikon Bonani, competing with Travis Coons to be the Titans' kicker, had a touchback on the opening kickoff. He missed a 32-yard field goal wide left off a bad snap but had a 29-yarder in the fourth quarter to avoid the shutout.



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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