Boisterous Titan VY left in dark by Kerry
Posted: Monday, August 10, 2009 5:31 pm
By: By JOHN WAWROW, AP Sports Writer
CANTON, Ohio (AP) — Standing at his locker following his preseason debut, Vince Young pulled on a Steve McNair jersey and smiled.
For Young, there was no better setting than the Pro Football Hall of Fame to pay tribute to his mentor, the former Tennessee Titans star quarterback who was shot and killed last month.
“One day he’s definitely going to be in the Hall of Fame, and I wanted to walk around and show that this jersey will be sitting here one day,” Young said.
He then followed with a brash proclamation about himself, when asked about past statements that he’ll be enshrined one day.
“That’s not bold statements, that’s confidence,” he said. “Basically, what I’m saying is I want to work hard to get into the Hall of Fame.”
If that’s the case, Young’s got plenty more work to do to get his derailed career back on track.
The former first round draft pick who lost his starting job last season, Young had an inconsistent performance in a 21-18 win over the Buffalo Bills in the NFL preseason-opening Hall of Fame game on Sunday night.
Taking over at the start of the second quarter for Kerry Collins, Young went 1-of-5 for 13 yards and an interception in his first three series. He bounced back by showing great touch in hitting Paul Williams for a five -yard touchdown pass to put the Titans up 21-3 late in the second quarter.
“It happens, man,” Young said of his sluggish start. “I know everybody wants me to go out and be perfect, but it’s not happening like that. You can’t just jump into it.”
Young finished 5-of-10 for 39 yards and had a one-yard run in an outing that was overshadowed by Collins, who’s picking up from last season when he helped lead the Titans to a 13-3 record.
Already picked as the starter, Collins went 7-of-10 for 82 yards in producing two touchdown drives, one capped by reserve punter A.J. Trapasso’s 40-yard run on a perfectly executed fake punt on the opening possession.
“I’m encouraged,” said Collins, entering his 15th season. “I guess after you play enough years, it doesn’t take as long to get ready, but I’ll take advantage of the work I’m going to get.”
The Bills have plenty of work to do, too. Buffalo looked sluggish and nothing like the better-prepared team, considering it opened training camp two weeks ago — a week ahead of the Titans.
The only offensive highlights were provided by Terrell Owens in his Bills debut after signing a one-year $6.5 million contract in early March, days after being released by Dallas.
On the field for only one series, Owens had two catches for 27 yards, including a 16-yarder on the second play from scrimmage. Trent Edwards hit Owens in perfect stride on a slant, and the receiver had the opportunity to score if not for a perfect tackle by cornerback Cortland Finnegan.
For Bills fans, it was important to see Owens get involved.
For T.O., it was no big deal.
“It was just what was open, Trent saw it and threw it to me,” Owens said of his first catch. “Whether or not it was a statement remains to be seen. I feel comfortable with the offense. I like it in Buffalo, but we all have a lot of work to do.”
That was apparent with how the drive ended, when Edwards floated a pass intended for Lee Evans at the Titans’ 7 and was easily intercepted by Michael Griffin.
Edwards focused on the positives.
“We can build off that one opening series,” said Edwards, who exclusively ran a no-huddle attack. “Preseason is about getting comfortable. You make mistakes, then work on them. But you can take a good drive like that and go with it, too.”
Owens was greeted by chants of “T.O.! T.O.!” by the partisan Buffalo crowd that stayed an extra day after Bills defensive end Bruce Smith and team owner Ralph Wilson were among six inducted into the Hall.
The game was part of the NFL’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the American Football League, pitting two original franchises. The Titans, who relocated from Houston, wore Oilers’ throwback uniforms. The Bills wore their throwback uniforms, which feature the red standing buffalo logo on their helmets. And even the officials dressed for the occasion, wearing throwback AFL red-and-white striped shirts.
Tennessee players also wore No. 9 decals on the backs of their helmets in honor of McNair.