Quinton Spain will be the Tennessee Titans opening day starter at left guard against the Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 11.
Spain, an undrafted second-year pro, turned back challenges from former starting center Brian Schwenke and rookie sixth-round pick Sebastian Tretola in camp and preseason to maintain the starting role he had for the final six games of 2015.
“I think we’re going to go into the Minnesota game (with Quinton). I would say that right now,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. “We’re not going to have a lot of opportunity in this next game based on how we’re gonna play it to really give anybody a fair shot.”
Spain was part of a Titans offensive unit that scored on all four of its first-half drives in Saturday’s 27-14 victory over the Oakland Raiders. The offensive line helped the Titans run for 132 yards against Oakland with 106 of that coming from the starters in the first half.
The Titans had planned to give Tretola a first-team look in the game, but that never materialized, because the first five were in such a rhythm that Mularkey did not want to disrupt their chemistry. That Spain was a key part in that helped to solidify his spot. He pulled and helped lead block for Derrick Henry on the rookie’s second-quarter touchdown. The drive went only 67 yards, but took 14 plays for a touchdown.
“We were gonna try to get Tretola into in the second quarter, but when that long drive took off, we weren’t gonna make any substitutions. We weren’t going to change anything till the second half.” Mularkey said.
Mularkey cautioned that Spain is still a work in progress despite nailing down the starting job for the opener.
“As many games as he’s played, probably inexperience still (is his biggest need),” Mularkey said. “Playing next to Ben (Jones) will help. Time and the plays and the protections we’re doing, they’re different from last year, and getting a chance to do them live against good competition for four quarters over and over (will help). He needs time. He needs time to see things.”