Titans beats Bucs 30-17 as QBs seek consistency

There’s still time left in the preseason to make some tweaks,

with neither Tennessee nor Tampa Bay where they want to be at the

quarterback position yet.

For the Titans, Friday night was supposed to be a coming-out

party for second-year Washington product Jake Locker in his first

NFL start.

Meanwhile, the Buccaneers were hoping their second preseason

game would be one in which Josh Freeman would begin to find

chemistry with his revamped receiving corps.

The result? A combined 8 for 21 passing in the Titans’ 30-7


”There is disappointment personally,” said Locker, who was 4

for 11 with an interception playing in all but one series of the

first half. ”But with the guys doing so well on the run game and

the defense doing so well, we still found ways to score points and

have a big lead going into the second half. So that was


Freeman, whose team took an early 7-0 lead on his 2-yard

touchdown pass to Mike Williams before trailing off the rest of the

way, said he isn’t panicking about where the offense is right


”It’s definitely a chance to go out and get some game-like

experience and learn from it,” said Freeman, who was 4 for 10 for

21 yards. ”Point blank, that’s what the preseason is about. It’s

tune-up games; it’s a chance for the coaches to go out and evaluate


”I thought a number of guys stepped up tonight.”

And also for the Titans.

Chris Johnson ran for two touchdowns and Rob Bironas kicked

three field goals as Tennessee (No. 21 in the AP Pro32) capitalized

on some early turnovers to seize control after the Bucs’ early


The Titans turned two first-half turnovers by the Bucs (No. 26)

into points.

”It was about defense. These guys came out and got a bunch of

three-and-outs,” Titans coach Mike Munchak said. ”They got two

turnovers and it led to points for us … That’s encouraging for us

to see.”

Munchak said Locker ”made a bad decision on the one throw” but

otherwise bounced back well.

Defensively, Tennessee linebacker Zach Brown and tackle Jurrell

Casey led the way with six tackles, while linebacker Dekoda Watson

had four stops and a sack for Tampa Bay.

The bigger issue for the Bucs was running back LeGarrette Blount

leaving the game late in the first half with a groin injury. But

afterward coach Greg Schiano said he didn’t expect the third-year

back to miss much time.

Blount took a shot to his left leg late in the second quarter,

and stayed down on the field for several minutes before finally

ambling to his feet and gingerly walking off the field flanked by


”It’s not a knee, it’s more up in his groin area. He just got

bent a funny way,” Schiano said. ”LeGarrette’s a tough kid and I

don’t think it is something that will sideline him too long. But if

it does, we’ll deal with that.”

Blount said he wasn’t stressing over it.

”I’ll be back soon. I’ll be good,” he said. ”I haven’t had an

injury like it. I’ve had nicks and bruises. That’s kind of what it

is. … It hurt. It’s just something that we’re going to have to

look into tomorrow.”

Though most of Tampa’s starters had been pulled at the time of

his injury Blount, last year’s starting running back, darted

through the right side of the line and was struck by a defender on

his leg as he dived forward.

He didn’t return to the game, but remained sitting on the

sideline in uniform during the second half.

If Blount does have to miss any time, the Bucs can be encouraged

by the continued productive preseason of Boise State rookie

tailback Doug Martin, who led the team with 23 yards on seven


In his second season, Locker was looking to impress the coaching

staff enough in hopes of earning the starting job over veteran Matt

Hasselbeck. But he got off to a very rocky start.

Locker had a serviceable outing replacing Hasselbeck in the

Titans’ loss to open the preseason last week, but completed 1 of

his first 4 attempts against the Bucs.

Locker did have a few highlights, his biggest coming two series

after his pick when he scrambled 21 yards on a broken play to set

up a 14-yard touchdown run by Johnson to make it 7-7 late in the

first quarter.

The play capped a dominating five-play, 71-yard drive that took

just 2:26. Locker had his best throw of the game during that

series, completing an 11-yard pass to Craig Stevens.

But Locker’s struggles stuck out more. They included him failing

to lead his team into the end zone early in the second quarter

after Titans defensive end Leger Douzable recovered a fumble by

Tampa backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky on the Bucs’ 10.

Johnson didn’t have the same troubles producing when he got a

chance to score, adding a second 14-yard touchdown run midway

through the second quarter that was setup by Chris Hawkins’

interception of Orlovsky.

Johnson finished with 46 yards on 10 carries.

Online: http://bigstory.ap.org/NFL-Pro32 and


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