The Titans head to Minnesota to practice against the Vikings Wednesday and Thursday, prior to their game Saturday. In many ways the practices will showcase more starts vs starters between the two teams than the game will on Saturday.
The Vikings have a lot of talent in spots on their roster and are a division champion from last year. This will be a great test for the Titans starters to see how they will matchup with another team that’s on their level or even a notch above. Let’s dive into three things to watch for in the joint practices.
Kristian Fulton vs Justin Jefferson
Get your popcorn ready as the great Terrell Owens once said. These two were college teammates at LSU and defiantly look forward to matching up anytime they can. Jefferson had his coming out party as a rookie in 2020 vs the Titans with 7 catches for 175 yards and a touchdown. These two will no doubt be matched up often in the two joint practices.
Fulton was viewed as someone in Mike Vrabel’s doghouse going into his contract year. Fulton has responded with a good training camp, which the Titans need him to be good if they want to have a successful 2023 season. Jefferson is the best WR in the NFL and will provide a great challenge to Fulton. It will be telling if Fulton is able to hold his own vs Jefferson.
Andre Dillard vs Danielle Hunter
The biggest question mark for the Titans going into 2023 is no doubt the OL and specifically the tackles. Those concerns haven’t been calmed yet in training camp. The Titans have a good front four and in the zero sum game it can be hard to get a real grasp if the pass rush is that good or are the tackles that bad.
Dillard will get a great test against Vikings DE Danielle Hunter who has 71 sacks in 7 years. Hunter is one of the better pass rushers Dillard will line up against this year, which will provide a good test. If Dillard struggles to hold his own that will only raise more concerns among Titans coaches and fans. On the flip side if he at least holds his own to where it’s not obvious who won the majority of reps that will be a major positive to take away for the Titans.
Ryan Tannehill vs the Vikings Defense
Tannehill has had a very good training camp all things considered. That is no shock as many veteran QB’s gain a little chip on their shoulder when younger QB’s are brought in like Will Levis was this year along with Malik Willis last year. Tannehill is in a de facto contract year and he is undoubtedly aware of that. His goal is to keep the young QB’s off the field when it matters and create a tough decision for Vrabel and Carthon at the end of the season.
The Vikings are in a rebuild on defense losing longtime LB Eric Kendricks along with EDGE Za’Darius Smith and future hall of famer CB Patrick Peterson. Similar to the Titans offense, there are many new faces they are breaking in on the defense. This will provide challenges for both the Titans offense and Vikings defense considering they are both trying to gain the chemistry needed for a unit to be successful.