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Pick Six: The challenge of a Titans defensive line anchored by Jeffery Simmons

1. Another clash of former Pats

For a second straight week, Josh McDaniels will be coaching against a former player coached in New England.

Tennessee Titans Head Coach Mike Vrabel is the reigning NFL Coach of the Year after leading his team to a 12-5 record and an AFC South title. McDaniels and Vrabel both arrived in New England in 2001, as a coaching assistant and free agent linebacker, respectively. In their eight seasons together, they won three Super Bowls, with Vrabel named to the New England Patriots All-2000s Team.

McDaniels stated Wednesday morning that the identity of Vrabel's team matches the same intensity and physicality the former linebacker played with.

"[J]ust to see him as a player, very tough-minded guy, physical, did all the little things right," McDaniels said. "Very intelligent, highly intelligent player. He could play the game up here just as well as he could physically and was a huge component to those defenses back then for a number of years and won a lot of championships and was a big reason why.

"You see that from his football team. They're always prepared, nothing's easy. They don't concede one yard on defense. I don't care what play it is, what game it is, they're not going to give you anything. They want to control and dominate the line of scrimmage on both sides."

2. The big challenge of Jeffrey Simmons

The Raiders' offensive line will have their hands full with defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons.

The fourth-year tackle is coming off his best season with 12 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks and six pass deflections. With it came with his first Pro Bowl selection. Simmons has had to step up as the Titans' premier defensive lineman this season, after Harold Landry was ruled out for the season. Going into Week 3, the former Mississippi State Bulldog is the team's leader in sacks (tied-2). He could be a great test for guard Lester Cotton Sr., who has a 79.1 PFF pass blocking grade this season.

"Simmons is a load. We played against him last year [in New England]," McDaniels said Monday morning. "He's a three-down player, for sure. [He] does a great job of being disruptive in the running game, can penetrate and create negative plays, and then is one of those guys that's an interior pass rusher that you really have to spend a lot of time talking about because he can disrupt your pocket in a hurry.

"[He's] one of the better interior linemen in the National Football League, I'd say no question about it. So, it'll be a big challenge for us this week."

3. Just three away

Derek Carr currently stands at 197 passing touchdowns in his career.

What that means is Carr could very well get his 200th career touchdown this Sunday in Nashville. The quarterback already holds the franchise record for most career passing touchdowns, and this would be another great career milestone. He would become the 48th quarterback in NFL history to reach the 200 touchdown mark.

4. Cash Money Carlson's streak

Over his past three seasons as a Raider, Daniel Carlson has been an absolute closer.

The fifth-year placekicker has made over 93 percent of his field goals the past two seasons and hasn't missed a single field goal or PAT this season. Currently, the kicker holds the longest active streak for field goals made with 28.

That record could be in jeopardy this Sunday considering the weather in the Music City. Currently, there's a slight chance of rain around the time of kickoff at Nissan Stadium.

5. More to come from Amik Robertson?

Amik Robertson stepped up in a big way last Sunday, with his first career interception on Kyler Murray.

The interception was big for the cornerback – his first in the NFL. Robertson said Monday that he threw the ball in the crowd to one of his best friends and his goddaughter, and has the ball in his possession at his home.

"I think it was a very special moment for myself," said Robertson. "The last time I touched the football [and] caught an interception was probably when I was in college. I was a ballhawk and always knew I could play this game, so that moment came with a lot of emotions. It had been awhile."

More responsibilities could be asked of Robertson heading into Tennessee, who had a 79 PFF coverage grade against the Arizona Cardinals.

6. How high is the sense of urgency for the Raiders?

Both teams will have a special sense of urgency to get a victory this Sunday.

The Raiders and the Titans are going into the game with 0-2 records, which is certainly less than ideal for two teams that made the playoffs last season. While both teams will play with heart and passion in Nissan Stadium, McDaniels doesn't want to consider his team "desperate" for a victory. With 15 games left to play, he wants his squad to bring the same urgency every week, regardless of their record.

"Every week really is the same to us," the head coach said. "I think that's just the best way for us to approach each week. To me, if I change that, I would basically be telling my football team that this week is more important than last week, or what have you, and they're all important. Every day is important. I think it's important for us to be consistent and try to learn from the things we haven't done well. Whether we won or lost, there's going to be a lot of lessons to learn. Nobody plays a perfect football game, that's almost impossible to think of."

Derek Carr agreed that's been the mindset and mentality in the locker room, crediting McDaniels for holding the locker room accountable every day – no matter the results of the scoreboard.

"I think if I'm honest, the way that Josh and everyone in this building has made our mindsets and the way we do it is, win or lose, it's going to hurt, we're going to correct it and we're going to work," Carr said.

"Even on good days at camp, bad days at camp, we came in and did the same thing every day. He really tries to make it because he's coached in some of the biggest games, he's been around it. He knows that that's the process on how to do it. And so, he's just teaching us that there's no heightened sense of anything. It should always be heightened. And he has really put that pressure on."

View the best photos from the last practice before the Raiders head to Nashville for their Sunday matchup against the Tennessee Titans.

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