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As the Tennessee Titans head into their bye week at 2-6, there is a rebuilding going on, whether head coach Ken Whisenhunt would admit that or not.
The Titans are now playing five of the six members of their 2014 draft class regularly with quarterback Zach Mettenberger, running back Bishop Sankey and left tackle Taylor Lewan all starting now on offense. Defensively, fifth-round pick Avery Williamson has become a mainstay at inside linebacker, while fourth-rounder Marqueston Huff was being used as the nickel back and in other sub-packages once Coty Sensabaugh missed time with a knee injury.
Add that to the Titans using second-year pro Blidi Wreh-Wilson at cornerback and second-year safety Daimion Stafford having regular roles in the secondary, while receiver Justin Hunter, and offensive linemen Chance Warmack and Brian Schwenke are both second-year guys on offense.
Slowly, but surely, thanks mainly to injuries but some to ineffectiveness, the Titans are beginning to weed out of some veterans in favor of younger players.
The switching to Mettenberger is the major sign of the change, as the sixth-round pick from LSU will have the reins for the rest of the season and beyond if he plays well. If his first start is any indication, Mettenberger has promise, even though he has a long way to go. The Titans were mostly pleased with his decision-making on Sunday against the Texans, as he completed 27 of 41 passes for 299 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He also had one lost fumble on a sack.
"(I found) that I can play in this league. My first experience as a starter was a great experience, but you always kind of have that in the back of your mind if you can hang with these guys, and I showed that when I do this right, I can play in this league," Mettenberger said.
The bye week will be all about getting Mettenberger more comfortable with the offense and his decision-making in the pocket.
"The way I look at it now, we've got a number of deficiencies we need to work on, and we need to get Zach as many reps as we possibly can. In a competitive situation, which this will be, especially tomorrow and Wednesday, those will be good reps," Whisenhunt said. "We're working on specific situations. We're working on third downs and red zone. I think what we're gonna do is we're gonna narrow down some of the plays that we have and get more reps out of them so we can process the reads and be more detailed in what we're trying to accomplish in those routes."