Byard Has Big Opening Night
Rookie Kevin Byard was known as a ball-hawk in college.
It was one of the main reasons the Titans chose him with the first pick of the third round, as Byard had totaled 19 interceptions in his four-year career at MTSU.
Byard showed off those ball-hawk skills in his first profesional game Saturday night, picking off former Titans quarterback Zach Mettenberger in the third quarter of Tennessee’s 27-10 victory.
“It was just one of those situations where we were in man coverage and it was third-and-long. So I kind of understood where the stakes were at and where they wanted to get the ball. Once he broke on his route, I broke with him. I immediately looked inside and the quarterback was throwing it, so I just intercepted the ball,” Byard said. “It was a great feeling to get my first preseason interception.”
Byard got up and ran, but one the play was reviewed, he was ruled down by contact at the Chargers 44 by tight end Asante Cleveland, the intended receiver.
Preseason wins don’t count.
But for the Tennessee Titans, Saturday night’s convincing 27-10 victory over the San Diego Chargers just might be something to build on for when the games do count.
The Titans, winners of just five games total over the past two seasons, did exactly what they set out to do in establishing their “smashmouth” offensive identity, running the football 33 times for 288 yards and three touchdowns.
That mindset filtered from the starters, who posted 179 yards behind the first-team offensive line down to the reserves who finished off the Chargers with 10 fourth-quarter points to put the game away.
“That definitely has been seldom felt around here for sure,” tackle Taylor Lewan said. “It feels good.”
With the Titans trailing 7-3, DeMarco Murray took the ball around the left side and broke free, going 71 yards for a touchdown and a 10-7 lead that the Titans would not relinquish.
“I saw Delanie (Walker) and the offensive line, they made great blocks on the power and the biggest block was by DGB (Dorial Green-Beckham). He made a great block on the cornerback outside. When you have big runs like that, it’s usually 11 guys working together,” Murray said.
In the second quarter, with Murray giving way to rookie Derrick Henry, the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner show off his rushing ability, carrying the ball on seven of the nine plays in a 63-yard touchdown drive, capping it with a 6-yard TD run.