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Opposing Player Spotlight: Week 1, Tennessee Titans

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To open the season, the Dolphins take on the Tennessee Titans, and a familiar face is coming back into town.

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Football is back! Week 1 of the 2018 NFL season has finally arrived, and this week, the Miami Dolphins will be taking on the Tennessee Titans at Hard Rock Stadium.

Each week of the upcoming season, I’ll be highlighting one player on the opposing team that Dolphins fans should be watching out for. This week, that player is Tennessee Titans wide receiver Rishard Matthews.

Stat Review

In subsequent weeks, I’ll be analyzing a player’s production from previous games of the upcoming year, but given that it’s week 1, we’ll take a look at Matthews’ statistics from last season. In 2017, Matthews started 14 games for the Titans and corralled 53 receptions for 795 yards and four touchdowns. He was the team’s top wide receiver and was 12 yards shy of being Tennessee’s most productive pass catcher overall (behind tight end Delanie Walker, who had 807 yards).

Looking Ahead

This year, the Titans will be looking to Corey Davis to become the team’s top pass-catching threat, meaning Matthews will likely be seeing some time in the slot. That being said, the Titans like to run two-tight end sets, and will also be pushing Matthews outside while revolving Walker and fellow tight end Jonnu Smith between the hashes. With that in mind, Miami’s defense will need to keep track of Matthews and where he’s lining up. Dolphins fans should remember from Matthews’ four years in Miami that the 28 year-old vet is capable of doing damage all over the field.

Key Matchup

Due to the likelihood of Matthews moving around the Titans’ formation, we have two matchups to look out for here, and both will be quite intriguing. When Matthews is lined up in the slot, he’ll likely be covered by Dolphins rookie defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick. The Dolphins drafted Fitzpatrick with the 11th overall selection because of the former Alabama star’s ability to cover defenders anywhere on the field. The first-year pro is naturally a free safety, but showed during his time with the Crimson Tide and during the preseason that he is a very capable nickel corner as well.

When Matthews is outside, he’s likely to be covered by fourth-year vet Bobby McCain given that Miami’s top corner, Xavien Howard will probably be responsible for covering Corey Davis. McCain was given a sizable extension this offseason because of his excellence in the slot, but with Cordrea Tankersley and Torry McTyer failing to impress during the preseason, McCain was moved outside and Fitzpatrick was awarded a starting position in nickel formation. Matthews will be McCain’s first true test as a boundary defender.