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Scouting Report: Titans

A look at what the Steelers will be up against on Thursday night against the Tennessee Titans:


SLEIGHT OF HAND:** The Titans' seventh-ranked rushing attack includes plenty of attempts at deception. Tennessee runs multiple formations with multiple personnel groups and often incorporates motion and shifts. Once the ball is snapped, defenses are shown a steady diet of play-fakes and jet-sweep motions. The Titans also run the read-option, the spread-option and whatever else they can come up with that takes advantage of quarterback Marcus Mariota's speed, athleticism and ball-handling ability.

The big-play runs seemingly occur more often than not when Tennessee can gain one of the edges, around left tackle Taylor Lewan or right tackle Jack Conklin.

Mariota carried six times for 51 yards in last Sunday's 24-20 victory over Cincinnati, repeatedly by design. His 28-yard scamper on an option was evidence enough that he's over a hamstring injury that forced him to miss Tennessee's 16-10 loss on Oct. 8 at Miami. Mariota had carried a combined six times for 14 yards in the Titans' three previous games.  

The Steelers prepare for the Week 11 matchup against the Tennessee Titans.

Six Titans carried the ball against the Bengals (running backs DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, fullback Jalston Fowler, a wide receiver Taywan Taylor, Mariota and Jackson).

Murray had two rushing touchdowns and a receiving TD.

ON THE MARCUS: Mariota's 93.8 passer rating in his first two seasons since becoming the second-overall pick in 2015 was the sixth-highest in NFL history for a player in is first two campaigns. He's below that this season at 83.1, with seven touchdown passes and six interceptions, but that hasn't curbed Mariota's aggressiveness throwing into the end zone or into coverage in an effort to give a receiver a chance to make a play.  

Mariota directed a 12-play, 73-yard drive in 4:27 for what became the winning touchdown with 36 seconds remaining against the Bengals. He was 5-for-9 passing for 53 yards and the winning score (7 yards to Murray) and rushed once for 7 yards on the march.  

THAT'S ADOREE': Cornerback Adoree' Jackson, selected 18th overall out of USC in the 2017 draft, played seven offensive snaps against the Bengals (he lined up in the backfield and at wide receiver). He ended up with three carries for 30 yards on offense, two tackles (one for a loss) and two passes defensed on 49 defensive snaps, and three punts returns for 17 yards and three kickoff returns for 71 yards on 14 plays on special teams.

Jackson was an All-American long-jumper at USC.

The Titans have gotten more creative on offense in the two games since their bye on Oct. 29.


COVER CORNER:** Cornerback Logan Ryan, a two-time Super Bowl winner in New England, spent much of his day against the Bengals running with wide receiver A.J. Green. Ryan was flagged for pass interference while defending Green and was beaten on a slant that turned into a 70-yard catch-and-run touchdown (Green beat Ryan on the slant and then avoided safety Kevin Byard's attempt at a tackle).

PICK SIX: Byard leads the NFL with six interceptions. He had three at Cleveland on Oct. 22 and two against Baltimore on Nov. 5 around Tennessee's bye.

MOTORS RUNNING: Tennessee has an active, aggressive defensive line as the first line of defense in the NFL's No. 6 rushing defense. Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey, a Geno Atkins-type player (6-foot-1, 305 pounds and quick off the ball) moves up and down the line and disrupts seemingly from everywhere.

RED ON THE MEND: Tennessee is 6-for-6 converting red zone possessions into touchdowns in its last two games. The Titans had converted in the red zone at a 41-percent clip in their first seven games.

THREE-POINT SHOOTERS: Tennessee is 6-0 since the beginning of the 2016 season in games decided by three points or fewer (2-0 this season).

SPECIAL EDITION: Tennessee is No. 1 in the NFL in gross and net punting average. Kicker Ryan Succop's miss from 48 yards away against the Bengals snapped a streak of 56 consecutive successful attempts from inside 50 yards.

STAT THAT MATTERS: Mariota has thrown 36 touchdown passes and zero interceptions in his career in the red zone.

HE SAID IT: "They use a lot of misdirection, what we like to call 'eye candy,' and multiple-tight end formations. Get you looking at one thing, have you jump in that, and then they'll come back the other way with a nice run design. David Copperfield couldn't do misdirection better than this." _ Fox analyst Mark Schlereth on the Titans' offense.

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