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NFL Preseason Preview - Green Bay (0-0) at Tennessee (0-0)



By John McMullen, NFL Editor

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Tennessee Titans will begin the Ken Whisenhunt era by welcoming the defending NFC North champion Green Bay Packers to Music City.

The new Titans head coach is known as a bit of a "quarterback whisperer," who did wonders for Kurt Warner in Arizona and Philip Rivers in San Diego. He was brought to Nashville in an effort to help young quarterback Jake Locker, the No. 8 overall pick from the 2011 draft, reach his potential.

Locker has shown signs at times, especially early last season, but he has also struggled with injuries and consistency. If Whisenhunt is unable to put the University of Washington product on the right path, it might be the end of the road for him with Tennessee.

The Titans also must replace former 2,000-yard rusher Chris Johnson, as well significantly improve the defense, specifically the back seven.

Another former UW star, 2014 second-round pick Bishop Sankey, will have every opportunity to become Tennessee's new bell cow in the backfield. He has a lot of Emmitt Smith qualities in that he is an all-around volume back who does everything pretty well.

On the other side Whisenhunt's defensive coordinator, Ray Horton, will be shifting toward a 3-4 attacking defense and veteran Shaun Phillips, who has amassed 19 1/2 sacks over his previous two seasons, should be a consistent presence off the edge.

"Everybody has an opportunity here," Whisenhunt said when talking about his team. "We're going to play our best guys."

The Packers, meanwhile, are looking to defend their third consecutive division title in 2014. A season ago, they battled to an 8-7-1 finish despite being without star quarterback Aaron Rodgers for a significant period of time, and edged the 8-8 Chicago Bears for first place in the NFC North.

You know Green Bay is going to be able to move the football as long as Rodgers is under center but the defense has been a significant issue for a few years in Titletown.

Veteran defensive coordinator Dom Capers has looked like a coach behind the innovation curve in recent seasons but he'll get one more chance to prove the talent has been the issue in Green Bay, not the scheme.

The two big moves were bringing in veteran pass rusher Julius Peppers to complement Clay Matthews on the edge, and drafting rookie safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who should end up being a significant upgrade on the back end.

This marks the ninth time since 2002 that the Packers and Titans have played in the preseason but the first time the game won't be in the final week. From 2002-09, Green Bay and Tennessee played each other in Week 4 of the preseason every year.

Overall, the Packers are 3-7 against the Houston/Tennessee franchise in the preseason, with the first meeting coming on Aug. 19, 1972, in Houston.

08/07 12:04:11 ET

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