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The Tennessee Titans head into the regular season - their first under the guidance of Ken Whisenhunt - with some questions still to be answered.
First and foremost on the list of questions is the Titans defense, which is switching from a 4-3 system that has been in place ever since the franchise arrived here in 1997, to a 3-4 under Ray Horton.
The transition, at least from the evidence shown in preseason, has not been altogether smooth. In each of Tennessee's four preseason games, the Titans surrendered a touchdown drive on the opening defensive series.
In fairness, the Titans second-team defense played in the preseason finale against Minnesota, and there is always the old fallback of not game-planning for a preseason opponent, but there was enough of a concern over a lack of a pass rush and an inability to get off the field on third down, combine with missed tackles, that led Whisenhunt to deliver a halftime tongue-lashing to his defense in the so-called dress rehearsal game against Atlanta in preseason week three.
"I've seen a lot of teams that don't have stats in preseason that end up being good teams that have good stats in-season," Whisenhunt said. "I'm not saying that's a predictor one way or another, but I think there are a lot of snaps that aren't in preseason games that you can help formulate an opinion about your defense, as far as what you're seeing from them in practice and competition against them, offensively and defensively.
"There are a lot of things that we did in practice that we didn't do in preseason games. Some of the things in preseason games are geared towards individual matchups, so you can see how your players stack up as opposed to a scheme where you're attacking a particular protection or you're attacking the way that an offense runs. From that standpoint, we feel like our guys have worked hard, and they're prepared. Hopefully that will be reflected in the way we play against Kansas City."
Perhaps, because the Titans still have plenty of other issues as well.
One issue that appears to be solved is the kicking position, where Tennessee wound up signing veteran Ryan Succop to a one-year deal on Labor Day, two days after his release by the Chiefs. The Titans were ready to roll with undrafted rookie Travis Coons, had they not been able to find a suitable veteran kicker. Succop probably solves that situation, as he made 22 of 28 field goals last year and had 47 touchbacks.
Amazingly, the offense, which may have been the biggest question mark coming into the season, given the health of Jake Locker and questions about whether he would fit Whisenhunt offense, has been the strongest unit on the team in preseason.
Locker has looked solid in both his throws and decision-making, and if young wideouts Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter continue to develop, the offense could be the most improved part of the 2014 Titans.
SERIES HISTORY: 48th regular-season meeting. Chiefs lead series, 27-20. These two teams met last year at LP Field when both were upstarts hoping to establish themselves in the AFC. The Chiefs won 26-17 and wound up going on to a wild-card playoff berth. The Titans, who were 3-1 entering the game, began a slide that sent them to a 7-9 finish.