Young Shows Poise for Titans Vs. Packers
Friday, September 1st 2006, 10:21 pm
By: News On 6
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) _ A sure sign of poise from a rookie quarterback: Vince Young even lobbies for instant-replay calls like a veteran. Young was impressive in his first exhibition start for the Tennessee Titans, consistently turning third downs into first downs in a 35-21 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Friday afternoon.
Young's lone touchdown pass came on a successful replay challenge by the Titans in the first quarter, but Young had an apparent touchdown called back on a replay challenge by the Packers in the third quarter.
``That was a touchdown as well,'' Young said. ``They just robbed me.''
Young played the Titans' first three series and returned for much of the third quarter of the two teams' exhibition finale, completing 8-of-17 passes for 80 yards and a touchdown.
``I pretty much knew that I was going to feel a little more comfortable this week as well,'' Young said. ``So I wanted to keep the chains moving on third down, and (score) when I'm in the ball game.''
And move the chains he did. The third overall pick in the draft went 5-for-6 on third down for four first-down conversions and a 16-yard touchdown pass to Bobby Wade in the first quarter.
``We weren't especially productive on third down the last few weeks, and it was an emphasis this week,'' Titans coach Jeff Fisher said.
But not the main emphasis. The Titans signed veteran Kerry Collins on Monday, a possible sign that they are abandoning their plan to open the season with Billy Volek as their starter.
``We overcame some distractions, obviously, inside the building with the uncertainty about the quarterback position,'' Fisher said.
Volek did everything he could to make his case on Friday, finding Brandon Jones on a crossing route for a 54-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter to give the Titans a 21-7 lead.
``I wanted to give Billy an opportunity to once again go with the no-huddle, and he was perfect,'' Fisher said.
But it wasn't much of an opportunity, as Young returned on the following series and Volek didn't see the field again.
Collins was 7-for-13 for 96 yards in the first half, leading the Titans to a quick touchdown after Tennessee recovered a fumble by Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
His only major slip came at the end of the first half, when he completed a pass short of the end zone and time expired before the Titans could attempt a field goal.
Fisher still hasn't named a starter for the Titans' opener against the New York Jets.
Will Collins be the starter?
``I don't know what my role's going to be, but whatever it is, I'm ready to go,'' Collins said. ``You know, I've only been here a short time, (but) if that's what they want, I'll be ready to go Sunday against the Jets.''
Volek bristled after the team signed Collins. His locker was empty when the locker room was opened to reporters.
The Packers, of course, don't have any ambiguity at quarterback. Brett Favre found rookie Greg Jennings on Green Bay's first play from scrimmage for an 89-yard completion, setting up a touchdown run by Ahman Green on the next play.
But the Packers have plenty of other questions to answer.
The Packers originally wanted to play Friday's game on Thursday night, but the league wouldn't allow them to play two games within three days. They opted to play Friday afternoon to not distract from local high school football games.
Playing only four days after an embarrassing 48-17 loss at Cincinnati on Monday night _ and without starting cornerbacks Al Harris and Charles Woodson _ the Green Bay defense looked soft again Friday.
And once Favre and several other offensive starters left the game after the two-play opening drive, Rodgers struggled to get much going.
``We have to protect better,'' Favre said in quotes distributed by the Packers' media relations staff. ``We have to run the football better. You can't win if you can't run the ball.''
Rodgers was 8-for-15 for 81 yards and a touchdown, but was sacked three times and lost a fumble. The Packers also struggled on punt returns and had 11 penalties for 95 yards.
``When you are doing things that are not very smart, that's counterproductive,'' Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.
The Packers couldn't muster much of a pass rush, allowing Young time to pick them apart.
On third-and-9 in the first quarter, Young found Wade in the end zone. Wade was ruled out of bounds, but Fisher challenged the call successfully to tie the game at 7.
After an apparent touchdown pass to Tyrone Calico was called back in the third quarter, Young eluded defensive lineman Jason Hunter on third-and-10 on the Packers' 17 and found fullback Ahmard Hall for a 13-yard gain. Young handed off to fellow rookie LenDale White on the next play for a 4-yard touchdown run, putting the Titans ahead 28-7.
Both teams apparently got out of the game without major injuries. Team doctors appeared to be examining Young's knee on the sideline in the fourth quarter, but Young said his knee was fine.
Titans center Kevin Mawae left the game in the first quarter, but returned.
``He said one of those fat guys fell on him,'' Fisher said.