Unbeaten Titans to Go With Collins Over Injured, Troubled Young

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans are sticking with veteran Kerry Collins as their starting quarterback as long as the team keeps winning.

Coach Jeff Fisher said so Monday following the Titans' 24-7 windy win at Cincinnati. The Titans are 2-0 for the first time since 1999, when they made their lone Super Bowl appearance.

"We're going to get Vince back, get his knee back, work with him, get him back involved in the offense," Fisher said. "But Kerry's going to go ahead and play for us until either he struggles or whatever else happens. Yeah, you saw by the way he played. In light of everything, it just makes sense to go with him."

The Titans had not given any projection for Young's return from his sprained left knee except to rule him out against Cincinnati.

Outside predictions have said Young, 18-11 since taking over as Tennessee's starter, could miss up to four weeks. Now that this move is official, it gives Young time to deal with his off-field issues after the team was given information that resulted in a call to police for help finding the quarterback, prompting a national discussion over his mental attitude.

Asked if he had relayed the decision to Young, Fisher said he had not talked to the quarterback who a week ago postponed a scheduled MRI exam to determine the extent of his damaged knee. Young did visit the team's offices Monday and had treatment on his knee.

"He's got to get back. He's eventually going to be under center for us. When that happens, I don't know. For right now, Kerry's our quarterback," Fisher said.

That's not what Young was expecting last week when he talked to reporters about what prompted the search to check on his mental well-being. Asked if he would have to win his starting job back, he said he doubted it.

"They drafted me to be the quarterback here at the organization, and that's what they want me to do. What I like about our organization is they're behind me all the way from Houston," Young said last week.

But for now, Fisher said it just makes sense to go with Collins after watching him play nearly mistake-free against the Bengals.

"Kerry did a great job managing the game," Fisher said.

The 35-year-old Collins, in the 150th start of his career, was 14-of-21 for 128 yards with one touchdown -- his first since Sept. 24, 2006. The numbers were more impressive considering the windy conditions with gusts up past 50 mph that made it impossible for some of his own teammates to hear him at the line of scrimmage.

This is the same quarterback who was out of work until the Titans called him in August 2006 to help mentor Young. But now he's back as a starter.

Collins was not available Monday, but tight end Alge Crumpler, who signed a two-year deal with the Titans with the chance to play with Young among his reasons, said winning is the key.

"I just want to win games. That's the thing. Whoever's going to be under the center as long the guy leads us to victory, that's what we have to rally behind," Crumpler said.

That's key for a team that went 10-6 last season but lost on the road to San Diego as the sixth and final wild-card team. The Titans already own a precious one-game edge over the AFC South's perennial champ Indianapolis and a two-game lead over Jacksonville in the division.

Rookie Chris Johnson has provided speed to an offense that ranked fifth in rushing in the NFL last season. He got his first 100-yard rushing performance in Cincinnati with a 51-yard run that tied for the team's third-longest since the start of the 1999 season, and his 248 yards combined lead the AFC in yards from scrimmage.

Cornerback Cortland Finnegan leads the NFL with three interceptions, and only five teams have a better takeaway/giveaway ratio than the Titans with a plus-two.

And a team that was the NFL's worst at scoring touchdowns inside the final 20 yards in 2007 has found the end zone on four of five trips into the red zone. Only Pittsburgh and Denver have been better. Add in a favorable schedule with Houston (0-1) visiting Sunday with Minnesota (0-2) up next with a trip to Baltimore (1-0) before their bye.

"We all have confidence in Kerry. He'll be fine," Fisher said.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press


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