The Tennessee Titans participated in an intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday evening at Nissan Stadium. The team’s offseason award winners—QB Marcus Mariota, DL DaQuan Jones, RB David Fluellen, and DL Matt Dickerson—split into two pairs of team captains for a schoolyard pick that decided the two teams for the scrimmage.

Here are the three biggest takeaways from the event, which was the Titans’ eighth practice of 2019 Training Camp.

1. Lots of Firkser

Last season, Titans tight end Anthony Firkser caught fans’ attention because of his incredible reliability. He catches a vast majority of targets that go his way and does a good job of getting open over the middle of the field.

In the Titans’ scrimmage at Nissan Stadium, Firkser was a focal point for the “white team” offense. Quarterback Marcus Mariota targeted the Harvard product early and often, and he made several nice plays.

Saturday night was hardly a revelation for Firkser, though. He has been impressive for the vast majority of Training Camp, which started for the Titans last Friday. His chemistry with Mariota has carried over to Ryan Tannehill, the Titans’ backup quarterback.

Firkser’s consistency and clear chemistry with Mariota will make it tough for the Titans to cut him. At this point, it would probably be wise to bet on him still being around after the Titans trim their roster from 90 to 53 on August 31.

If the Titans decide to keep only three tight ends, he would figure to be the third behind Jonnu Smith and Delanie Walker. MyCole Pruitt, who has also played well in practices going back to OTAs, is probably behind Firkser at this point.

2. Sharpe Looking Sharp

Fourth-year receiver Tajaé Sharpe also played a big role on offense for the “white team” during Saturday’s scrimmage. He consistently got himself open, and he made multiple quality catches on the sidelines for first downs.

Sharpe also scored the lone touchdown of the affair for his team on the very first drive. He hauled in a pass from Mariota, who rolled out to his right and found Sharpe in the corner of the end zone.

Prior to the start of Training Camp, it looked as if Sharpe was far from a lock to make the Titans’ final 53-man roster. But after Cameron Batson’s season-ending injury and Sharpe’s multiple impressive performances in practices, he’s gone from being on the bubble to being an extremely safe bet to make the team.

Part of what makes Sharpe valuable, despite his lack of special teams ability, is his versatility. He can play outside receiver and inside receiver. For most of last season, he was the Titans’ primary option in the slot.

Especially with the uncertainty surrounding fellow receiver A.J. Brown and his mystery leg injury, the Titans may be forced to count on Sharpe early in the season. He looks to be earning their trust.

3. Red-Zone Woes

At one point or another in just about every single Training Camp practice, the Titans work on red-zone situations. Saturday was no exception.

And, as has become commonplace in those drills as of late, the offense looked pitiful. Marcus Mariota and his teammates couldn’t get anything going in the red zone on Saturday night.

Their series featured a sack, a near-interception, and an incomplete pass to the corner of the end zone. Messiness like that has plagued the Titans offense in the red zone for several practices in a row.

A pretty distinct pattern has developed whenever Mariota and the offense run a play during practice in the red-zone. Mariota takes the snap, stands in the pocket until he’s gone through all of his reads and seen that nobody’s open. Then, he proceeds to scramble around until either the play is blown dead or he throws the ball away.

It’s become a bit concerning, and it has to stop.

Receiver Tajaé Sharpe said after the scrimmage that red zone situations can simply come down to “making a play,” and that he and his teammates need to find a way to step up and do that more consistently.

He’s exactly right.

Cover image: Donald Page/AP
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