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Five Tennessee Titans to watch against the Buffalo Bills

COVID-19 Edition

Tennessee Titans v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

The Tennessee Titans are scheduled to host the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday night. This, of course, is contingent on the team that was unable to follow the NFL’s rules regarding COVID-19 precautions containing the outbreak that has ravaged their team for the better part of the last two weeks, throwing the NFL season into sudden chaos as a result.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were angry that they had an early bye last week. The Bills now have to play an infected Titans squad and then turn around to prepare for the defending World Champion Kansas City Chiefs, on a short week where Kansas City will have two extra days to prepare for the game. That’s provided this game between Buffalo and Tennessee is played, which is still a very large “if” as of this writing.

Which players will we be watching this week? Well, it might depend on who’s available. Will the league suspend players who took place in an unsanctioned workout at a high school campus? They may, so I’m leaving starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill off this list just in case (with apologies to backup Logan Woodside, I’m not familiar enough with him to provide any sort of meaningful report).

Here is our list of Titans we’ll be watching this week.

RB Derrick Henry

The bruising power back is the focal point of Tennessee’s offense regardless of the quarterback, so containing him will be priority number one for a Bills defense that struggled against the run until last week. After allowing Darrell Henderson to rush 20 times for 114 yards and a touchdown, the Bills clamped down on Josh Jacobs in Week 4, holding the Las Vegas Raiders standout to 15 carries for 48 yards. Henry is a stud, and he gained 78 yards on 20 carries when the Bills played Tennessee last season. It’s a safe bet that he’ll see upwards of 25 touches on Tuesday.

WR A.J. Brown

With Corey Davis and Adam Humphries on the COVID-19 list, Brown is the only one of Tennessee’s top wideouts available for the game. He’s not exactly healthy, either, as he has dealt with a bone bruise in his knee that hasn’t healed very quickly. He was a limited practice participant on Thursday, so it’s possible that he misses the game, too—or, if he suits up, that he is hampered by the injury to the point where he won’t be nearly as effective. Brown’s status will be of tremendous importance given all the other uncertainty around this game. Nick Westbrook-Ikhine and Kalif Raymond are the only other wideouts on Tennessee’s roster, with Chester Rogers and Cody Hollister available on the team’s practice squad.

TE Jonnu Smith

The Bills have really struggled with opposing tight ends this year, allowing a total of 29 catches for 347 yards and two touchdowns to tight ends this season. The team has also played teams that have really solid tight ends—if Chris Herndon is arguably the worst player among the list of tight ends the Bills have seen, it’s a good list, as they’ve seen Mike Gesicki, Gerald Everett, Tyler Higbee, Darren Waller, and Jason Witten, as well. Smith is a big, strong receiver who excels against linebackers. With Matt Milano expected to miss the game this week, it will be up to Tremaine Edmunds and Tyrel Dodson to slow Tennessee’s outstanding tight end, who has 13 catches for 181 yards and three touchdowns in three games this year.

OLB Harold Landry

With Jadeveon Clowney appearing on the injury report and Kamalei Correa on the COVID-19 list, Landry could be the Titans’ top pass rusher this week. If that’s the case, the Bills will have to make sure they can keep him off of Josh Allen in order to let their MVP-candidate quarterback continue to thrive. Landry has yet to notch a sack this season, but he leads the Titans with five quarterback hits. He also has three pass breakups and an interception, showcasing his versatility. Landry is a sound overall defender who needs to be accounted for at all times.

CB Jonathan Joseph

Malcolm Butler is on the injury report, and Kristian Fulton is on the COVID-19 list, so the Titans could be shorthanded in the secondary against a Buffalo passing game averaging 331 yards per game. That’s a tough matchup for a healthy secondary, but if Joseph is pressed into more action, it could lead to some great matchups for Allen to exploit this week. Look for Stefon Diggs to have a big week.