NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Titans want their preseason performance to carry over now that all the games count.
Tennessee gave up the fewest quarterback sacks, led the NFL with eight interceptions and topped the AFC in fewest points allowed. Darius Reynaud, the replacement for former Pro Bowl returner Marc Mariani, led the AFC on punt returns.
Now everyone's record is 0-0, and the New England Patriots will be a completely different challenge in the opener.
Still, coach Mike Munchak likes what he's seen so far as a stepping stone into the regular season.
"You get a confidence going," Munchak said of the preseason. "You start getting a confidence going in each other. To me, when you're playing a game it doesn't matter. It's all about playing your best. I think our guys approached it that way in the preseason that we needed to establish an identity a little bit more that we can go and make those kind of plays."
The Titans went 9-7 in 2011 with a defense that ranked eighth in points allowed. Forcing more turnovers and getting to the quarterback were a focus for improvement in the offseason.
Tennessee managed eight interceptions in this preseason, just three back of the 11 the Titans picked off all of 2011. They also finished with 13 sacks compared to 28 last season, which tied them for fifth in the preseason. The stinginess improved a tick too, as Tennessee led the AFC allowing 16.8 points per game. They tied for second recovering five fumbles.
They also finished the preseason with plus-6 in the takeaway-giveaway ratio, and six different players had interceptions.
"We haven't been really turning the ball over, which is good," Munchak said. "The protection's been good. ... We're heading in the right direction in a lot of categories. We all know we're 0-0 going forward, but you still want to have success at different phases of the game. And we've had success at a lot of phases we were concerned about after last year ended."
In the final roster cuts, the Titans kept each of this year's draft picks, with safety Markelle Martin already on the physically unable to perform list. Munchak said that mixed with the on-field success can help players realize the organization has a plan that works.