Five to Watch: Titans at Colts

Greg Talmage points out who you should keep an eye on when the Tennessee Titans visit the Indianapolis Colts in the RCA Dome Sunday. See who he picked and why their performance is crucial to a Colts victory.

1. Jim Sorgi:

How much playing time will backup quarterback Jim Sorgi receive? Inquiring minds in Nashville and Cleveland want to know. Coach Tony Dungy has made it clear that Sorgi will play the entire second half at the very minimum. Many speculate that it will likely be more.

A lot could depend on the status of Colts WR Marvin Harrison. If Harrison is able to go the Colts will want to get him and Peyton Manning a decent amount of on field time together.

Still, unless the Colts get up or down big early, the outcome of the game will depend a lot upon the play of Sorgi.

Sorgi is taking it all in stride. "I'll do my best; we'll see what happens," Sorgi said. "That's all you can say." Sorgi knows no one, outside of his locker room, is expecting much from him — the Vegas oddsmakers have the Colts as 6 point home underdogs.

2a. Tony Ugoh and 2b. Michael Toudouze:

Titans RDE Kyle Vanden Bosch is a relentless pass rusher who puts tremendous pressure on the left side of an opposing team's offensive line. In their first matchup, the speed and motor of Vanden Bosch gave Ugoh more than he could handle at times.

Vanden Bosch has 12 sacks this season, with six of them coming in the last three games, so he's definitely finding his groove at the right time.

Ugoh does a nice job sliding out easily to cut off explosive edge rushers. He also has the size, strength and wingspan to redirect. Those assets will all need to be working at the highest level for Ugoh to be successful on Sunday.

But the fact is that Ugoh will likely not see the majority of snaps at left tackle. That will fall on his backup, Michael Toudouze.

Against San Diego, Toudouze did a very nice job blocking Shawne Merriman. He was able to get excellent hand placement on Merriman, engulfing and lifting the quick outside linebacker, thereby negating Merriman's speed and ability to drive his legs in the bullrush.

Just like that game, the key for Toudouze will be hand placement. If he's not able to dictate where his hands go, then he likely won't be able to keep QB Jim Sorgi clean.


Ryan Lilja, Jeff Saturday and Jake Scott
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

3a. Ryan Lilja and 3b. Jeff Saturday:

These two players are included as one, because the left guard normally assigned with blocking RDT Albert Haynesworth usually always needs help from the center when attempting to block this beast. No one has had success this season blocking Haynesworth one-on-one.

It's no wonder most have him on the short list for possible Defensive Player of the Year. Statistically, he's garnered six sacks, 20 quarterback pressures, six tackles for loss and 69 tackles.

With Haynesworth in the lineup, Tennessee is 9-3 and has allowed 285.3 total yards, 79.3 rushing yards and 15.8 points per game. The Titans lost all three games he missed with a hamstring injury. The per-game averages ballooned to 349 total yards, 160 rushing yards and 32.3 points. So the Tennessee defense is a much different unit with Haynesworth.

Saturday and Lilja will both spend time doubling Big Albert in hopes of keeping him away from QB Peyton Manning and opening some holes in the running game, but when Manning leaves the game, so will C Jeff Saturday. After that, the duty of blocking Haynesworth falls on Lilja and backup center Dylan Gandy. When the Colts start inserting second- and third-stringers, that's when the Titans will look to take advantage of particular matchups.

4. Robert Mathis and 5. Antoine Bethea:

In his Monday press conference, Dungy mentioned that he'd like to get RE Robert Mathis and S Antoine Bethea back on the field for the first time since Week 14 to shake off some rust and get their timing back. If these two players are able to go, watch them closely as they round themselves into playoff shape.

When asked how long he envisioned both playing, Dungy said 15 to 20 snaps would be ideal. That's likely around a quarter, or maybe more if Indianapolis is having success eating clock offensively. It'll be good to see how having Mathis back on the field helps the Colts pass rush.

Indianapolis has had some trouble getting to the quarterback with their front four lately and as a result has even started blitzing more.

Tennessee will look to pound the Colts with RB LenDale White. That'll likely mean plenty of Bob Sanders in the box, leaving Bethea as the deep safety. One thing the Titans love to do is spread an opponent out with three- and four-receiver sets and then run at them.


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