After a frustrating opening weekend loss to the New Orleans Saints, Tennessee was at home last week to the visiting Los Angeles Chargers. At first, things looked grim for the Titans but the team was able to recover and defeat the Chargers in overtime.
On paper, this Tennessee team appears to be an average squad, however, with head coach Mike Vrabel coaching, this team tends to overachieve and play better than expected.
Offensively, the unit is an average group except running back Derrick Henry is still there. Wide receivers Treylon Burks, DeAndre Hopkins and tight end Chig Okonkwo make up a solid if unspectacular receiving group. Defensively, defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons, safety Kevin Byard and linebacker Harold Landry III are the studs.
Here are three interesting players to watch this week during Browns vs Titans:
TE Chigoziem Okonkwo
If there is one underrated player on this Tennessee Titans offense, look no further than Okonkwo. In an offense that was mediocre in all phases, the 2022 4th-round pick out of Maryland emerged as the only bright spot. Whenever Okonkwo got the ball in his hands, he showcased his yards after the catch ability and his vision was similar to a running back.
the last 5 years there have been only 5 players with a season of:— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) February 24, 2023
> 0.35 EPA/target
> 7.9 YAC/reception
> 30 receptions
Ja'Marr Chase (2021)
Deebo Samuel (2021)
A.J. Brown (2019)
George Kittle (2018)
Chig Okonkwo (2022) <<<<
Chig deserves to be featured more in the TEN offense https://t.co/XZ0ZGCYH4X
Okonkwo was second in receiving yards for the team last season and 5th in targets, and he slowly began to emerge as one of the main focal points in Tennessee’s offense. This season he looks primed to break out and be a contributor for the Titans:
Chig Okonkwo dragging Derwin James around pic.twitter.com/qCb8noCGRa— Theo Ash (@TheoAshNFL) September 17, 2023
The Browns have done a good job neutralizing the tight ends in the passing game this year but Okonkwo provides a unique challenge. He has the ability to turn a 5-yard gain into a 15-yard gain and is a threat to score in the red zone. Cleveland will have to be ready for him this upcoming Sunday.
DT Jeffery Simmons
In terms of underrated defensive tackles in the league, Simmons is definitely up there. He has shown numerous times he can wreck a game at any time.
He ranked top 10 in run stop rate for defensive tackles last season, he is a freak athlete and has insane power. Simmons has been a contributor for the Titans since he was drafted by the team in 2019.
watch Jeffery Simmons (#98) yank on the collar of LT Trevor Penning to help give Arden Key a clean path for the strip pic.twitter.com/uiJhoZZG6D— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) September 12, 2023
Simmons is a two-time 2nd-team All-Pro and a two-time Pro Bowler. He has slowly gotten better every single season. He was rewarded for his play with a new contract extension this offseason: 4-year $93 million with $66 million in guaranteed money.
Cleveland’s interior offensive lineman will be tested yet again this week as Simmons will provide a unique challenge. He’s stout against the run and he’s no pushover in terms of pass rush so it is imperative that the Browns do their best to neutralize Simmons.
RB Tyjae Spears
Outside of Henry, another player to look out for is the rookie Spears.
Spears had a strong preseason and is slowly beginning to make his mark in Tennessee’s running game Henry. With good vision and patience, the 3rd rounder out of Tulane is likely seen as the eventual replacement to Henry, whenever the team chooses to go down that path.
ABSOLUTELY SICK FROM TYJAE SPEARSpic.twitter.com/b6xiWPE5SP— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) August 20, 2023
If the Titans choose to change up the pace of their running game, look for Spears to get involved. Cleveland has done a good job in not allowing running backs to run all over them in previous years but Spears is someone to keep a close eye on. Henry is always going to be the main focus of Tennessee’s offense but Spears is someone to watch closely.
Who are you most interested in watching on the Titans this Sunday?