Jerry Gray expects the Arizona Cardinals to throw the ball, and he’s prepared to throw caution to the wind.
The Tennessee Titans’ defensive coordinator said he has no plans to employ any sort of exotic defensive strategy to counter Cardinals’ wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald or any of that team’s other playmakers when the teams meet in a preseason contest Thursday at LP Field (7 p.m., ESPN).
“I want to see what our guys can do,” Gray said. “Arizona is a good football team. They’ve got three really good running backs [and] probably the best wide receiver in football right now, if you single him up.
“…We’re just putting guys out there to see what they can do.”
Thus far, the Titans have not seen a lot passing.
In the first two contests, opponents have combined for 56 rushes and just 45 pass attempts. Conversely, the Cardinals, who already have played three contests, have thrown the ball more than they have run it (85-82).
Tennessee – for what it’s worth – has the best per game average in pass defense and total defense thus far in the preseason. It has allowed one pass play for more than 20 yards.
Among the 19 players who had more than 1,000 receiving yards last season, Fitzgerald tied for second with an average of 17.6 yards per catch. In limited action this preseason he has two catches for 27 yards, but six different players have at least one reception of more than 20 yards.
“They got a real good passing game,” Gray said. “Going against Arizona, they’re going to throw the ball up there and see if they can go get it.”
With its quarterback situation still unresolved, Arizona’s emphasis on the passing game is not likely to diminish. Third-year player John Skelton will start at quarterback for the second straight game. Kevin Kolb started the first two.
“They’re going through their quarterback stuff and that’s good,” Gray said. “The thing we have to do is see how we match up against their skill. … We have to make sure we keep competing at a high level and see what out guys can do.”