Titans Entertain Cardinals For Preseason Clash

By: Michael Robinson | Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The quarterback situation for both the Tennessee Titans and Arizona Cardinals is coming into focus. They meet Thursday night on ESPN to help start Week 3 of the NFL preseason.

Kickoff from LP Field in Nashville will be right after 8:00 p.m. (ET). The Don Best odds screen has Tennessee down to 3-point favorites after opening at 4½. The total has gone in the opposite direction, jumping from 39½ to 42½.

Week 3 of the preseason is always the closest to a regular season game as coaches play their starters the most. It’s being reported in the local Arizona media that the starters will play into the second half, and that’s true for Tennessee as well.

Arizona is already playing its fourth preseason tilt after starting with the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio against New Orleans on August 5. The Cardinals are 0-3 against the spread, even failing to cover in their 31-27 home win over Oakland last Friday (as 4½-point favorites).

Quarterback Kevin Kolb started last game, but finished just 3-of-6 for 23 yards and was called scared in the pocket after the game by Raiders defensive end Tommy Kelly. John Skelton played just five plays in the second quarter, but was 3-of-3 for 23 yards and threw a short touchdown pass.

The 24-year-old Skelton is the starter this week and also very likely for the regular season. The 6-foot-6, 245-pound quarterback had a 68.9 rating in eight regular season games last year. The highly-paid Kolb has been a bust since being acquired from Philadelphia before last season.

Arizona’s quarterbacks should get some help from the preseason debut of running back Beanie Wells (knee). He’s not likely to play a ton though. Left tackle Levi Brown is out indefinitely after suffering a triceps injury last game. D.J. Young will get the first chance to protect Skelton’s blindside, but is a big drop-off.

Tennessee is 1-1 straight up and ATS in its two preseason contests, away games at Seattle (27-17 loss) and Tampa Bay (30-7 win). The latter came last Friday and a couple of Bucs turnovers in the second quarter made a big difference.

Quarterback Jake Locker got his first NFL start against Tampa Bay, but struggled at just 4-of-11 for 21 yards and an interception. Despite that effort, the second-year product from Washington has won the starting job over veteran Matt Hasselbeck and will get a big opportunity to make amends on Thursday.

The 24-year-old Locker has been the better quarterback in training camp and his mobility is a big plus. However, his accuracy was a question even in college. The doubt about him is one reason the spread has moved in Arizona’s direction.

Fortunately, Locker has a motivated running back in Chris Johnson, who wants to put his poor 2011 season behind him after his holdout. Johnson had two TD runs last week.

Locker won’t have wideout Kenny Britt to throw to until at least the regular season opener. His knee issues are compounded by a looming suspension for a DUI. Nate Washington was the leading receiver (1,023 yards) in the regular season last year with Britt’s injuries, but this receiving core doesn’t scare anyone, including Arizona.

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