Who's the Guy?… Derrick Henry
The two-time NFL rushing champ sets the tone for the Titans with a punishing running style that forces defenders to make "business decisions" on the perimeter. Measuring 6-foot-3, 247 pounds with a lethal stiff arm that rivals Deontay Wilder's thunderous right-hand cross, Henry bullies opponents with his rare combination of size, strength, power and skill. If No. 22 gets it going early, the Titans could become a ferocious bunch that feeds off of his energy.
Don't Sleep On… Jeffery Simmons
One of the best interior defenders in the league resides in Tennessee. As a disruptive force with superior size, strength and explosiveness, Simmons overpowers blockers at the point of attack to destroy running plays with his penetration. The one-time Pro Bowler is also a crafty pass rusher who flashes the ability to win with power or finesse. Given his ability to impact the run and pass with his strength, power and skill, No. 98 must be accounted for on every play or he will single-handedly destroy an opponent's game plan.
Know His Name: Kevin Byard
The two-time All-Pro safety is the ultimate ball hawk in the middle of the field. With 23 career interceptions, Byard flashes a combination of instincts, awareness and ball skills that remind scouts of an all-star-caliber centerfielder in baseball. If quarterbacks are not careful with their eyes, the veteran will find his way to the ball to swipe a pick on a tip or overthrow between the hashes.
Under Pressure: Ryan Tannehill
The pressure has been mounting on the former NFL Comeback Player of the Year since his dismal playoff performance last season. The Titans picked their franchise quarterback of the future (SEE: Malik Willis) with a plan to groom the youngster for a starting role in 2023. Considering his lame duck status as the leader of the team, Tannehill is playing for the job each week with his eventual replacement soaking up his knowledge and wisdom every day. That pressure is a lot to manage daily and the toll of the stress could eventually seep into his play.
Numbers Game: 11
The rookie expected to replace A.J. Brown as the Titans' No.1 receiver has been targeted 11 times in two games. Although Treylon Burks has registered seven catches for 102 yards (14.6 yards per catch average) with a few big plays on his highlight reel, he has not quite replaced Brown's dominance on the perimeter. With the Titans' aerial attack in need of a spark, Burks is the playmaker to watch in the lineup.
The Titans want to hammer opponents with an old-school game plan that features the running game as the top priority. Derrick Henry sets the table as a workhorse runner with the size, strength and stamina to tote the rock 25-plus times between the tackles. If he gets it going on the ground, Tannehill is capable of picking opponents apart on play-action passes. If the Titans can play the game on their terms, they will control the tempo of the game, drain the clock and beat their opponent adhering to a "three yards and a cloud of dust" game plan that has worked well for the team in the Mike Vrabel era.
The Titans' "Bully Ball" tactics also show up in their defensive approach. Vrabel has assembled a collection of players, particularly along the defensive front, who excel at beating blockers up at the point of attack. The Titans want to own the line of scrimmage and force opponents to win with a one-dimensional approach (pass) that enables their defensive line to get after the passer. With the defensive backfield instructed to take away the deep ball with "top-down" coverage, the Titans want to make opponents work for every yard while testing their discipline and patience over four quarters. If the opponent is unable or unwilling to grind it out against an ultra-physical squad, it is hard to chalk up a win against Vrabel's squad.
Matchup to Watch: Derrick Henry vs. Divine Deablo
The Titans will likely look to re-establish their offensive identity after stumbling out of the gate this season. The 0-2 start could prompt Vrabel to instruct his offensive coordinator Todd Downing to feed Henry early and often to soften the Raiders' defense. The running back will attack the middle of the defense on a flurry of downhill runs that will test the will of tacklers attempting to slow him down in the hole. As the Raiders' leading tackler, Deablo will have plenty of chances to slow down the freight train before he gets up to speed. How well the undersized linebacker fares in his one-on-one tackling drill against the extra-large runner could determine whether the Raiders' defense is able to control the Titans' potent ground game.
View the best photos from Wednesday's practice at Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center as the Raiders prepare for their upcoming game against the Tennessee Titans.