Titans picking up where they left off
Posted: Tuesday, August 11, 2009 5:33 pm
By: By TERESA M. WALKER, AP Sports Writer
NASHVILLE (AP) — The cliche heard this time every year is that NFL teams cannot pick up where they left off last season.
For a quarter, the Tennessee Titans looked like they just might.
Kerry Collins was crisp and efficient. A quick adjustment jump-started Chris Johnson and LenDale White.
The defense stretched, then ended Buffalo’s first drive with an interception.
The first-teamers left after one quarter with a 14-0 lead, looking like the team that went an NFL-best 13-3 in 2008, and Tennessee held on for a 21-18 preseason opening win over Buffalo on Sunday night.
Jeff Fisher had his Titans report about a week later for training camp than he could have. He said Monday he got what he expected out of the first-teamers.
“I think there was some concern way back in the back of our minds how things were going to go without the normal practice days and no days prior to going into the preseason game,” Fisher said.
The Titans haven’t installed all of their offense and defense yet, playing the Hall of Fame game just 10 days after their first practice of training camp. Fisher said they played OK.
“It was kind of what we wanted to see. From that standpoint, I’m pleased with what we got done.”
The first quarter went so well against Buffalo that even Fisher’s fake punt play worked using the backup punter, rookie A.J. Trapasso. He weaved his way through defenders 40 yards for a touchdown on the opening drive.
Collins, secure as the starting quarterback with his two-year, $15 million deal, completed his first three passes and was 7-of-10 for 82 yards.
“Overall, I thought it was a good start,” Collins said after the game.
Johnson lost a combined eight yards on his first three carries, then had 25 on his next three. White, who led the AFC with 15 touchdowns rushing in 2008, capped the drive with a three-yard TD.
Fisher said the Bills crowded the line of scrimmage and blitzed linebackers and safeties to defend a rushing offense that ranked seventh in the NFL last season.
“Once we recognized that was going to be their approach, we just adjusted,” Fisher said.
Safety Michael Griffin was second in the NFL with seven interceptions in 2008.
He got one to stop the Bills’ first drive, handing it back to linebacker Keith Bulluck for a 22-yard return.
Griffin credited the pass rush, the unit supposedly hurt the most by the free agent loss of All-Pro tackle Albert Haynesworth to Washington, for the pick.
“They forced a bad throw, and I just made a play on the ball and brought it in,” Griffin said.
The Titans had only one penalty on a special teams hold at the end of the first quarter Fisher called questionable.
The other 13 penalties for 122 yards came from the backups and third-stringers, including two encroachments by defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson, who lost 30 pounds this offseason to help himself play more downs.
Vince Young currently is Collins’ backup, and the 2006 Offensive Rookie of the Year didn’t help himself by going three-and-out on the first three series — the first ended by an interception when receiver Lavelle Hawkins went the wrong way. Young finished 5-of-10 for 39 yards with one carry for a yard.
Fisher said Monday he thought Young played well and made good decisions.
Patrick Ramsey posted much better numbers, completing 8-of-10 for 72 yards.
Fisher said Young remains the Titans’ No. 2 quarterback with Ramsey No. 3.
“There’s a chance that Vince will start a preseason game as we move forward, and we’ll give Pat a chance to play earlier in the ballgame,” Fisher said.