Pitt product Rashad Weaver made a statement in his professional debut for the Tennessee Titans on Friday night, as he led the team or tied for the team lead in sacks, tackles for losses, quarterback hits and pass breakups in a 23-3 preseason win over the Atlanta Falcons.
All told, the 6’4”, 259-pound defensive end came up with 1.5 sacks, two tackles for losses, two quarterback hits and one pass breakup in the game, and the constant pressure he applied to Falcons signal-callers A.J. McCarron and Feleipe Franks contributed to their combined passer rating of 22.5, their 33.3 completion percentage on 21 pass attempts and their inability to find the end zone once.
Weaver’s first career sack came with 13:45 left in the second quarter and the Titans up 3-0. Unwilling to be denied by Falcons left tackle Willie Beavers, Weaver charged him and cleared a path to McCarron by shoving the 6,5”, 324-pound lineman back about a yard with his left hand. Weaver then latched onto McCarron with his right hand and collapsed on him, bringing him down with the help of Titans defensive tackle Trevon Coley. Weaver would log his first solo sack late in the fourth quarter, taking down Franks with the game well in hand.
The other highlight from Weaver on Friday night came in the third quarter with 9:59 left on the clock. Around that time, Weaver found himself one on one with Franks and began to chase him down. Franks then pulled the trigger on a pass attempt only to see Weaver leap up and swat it down. The play would bring about a third-and-long situation that Franks and the Falcons would not successfully navigate. As a result, Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo took the field and made a 42-yard kick to give the Falcons their only points of the game.
All told, it was a solid debut for Weaver, who finished with a 26 percent pass-rush win rate, which led all rookies over the weekend. And the Pitt product's success on the field was not lost on Titans head coach Mike Vrabel.
“I think he plays hard, I think he’s got good length, and I think he’s got to work on his pad level,” Vrabel said after the game. “But I think it was just another positive step of taking practice and continuing to improve and being productive and having fun. He looked like he played hard and had fun.”
Weaver will get another chance to show the Titans staff what he can do on Saturday, when the team heads down to Raymond James Stadium to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That game is set to kick off at 7:30 ET.