Young itching for 1st NFL win

Rookie says Titans need to finish off foes

Pro Football

October 14, 2006|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun Reporter

Someday, Vince Young might remember the milestones from his rookie season with the Tennessee Titans. The first start against the Dallas Cowboys two weeks ago. The first touchdown last Sunday in Indianapolis.

For now, all Young cares about is that his team is 0-5 going into tomorrow's road game against the Washington Redskins. A week after losing to the Colts, 14-13, after leading 10-0, Young is getting itchy about his first win.

"So anxious, man. I'm so miserable right now," Young said. "If you've been watching our games from the beginning of the season until now, we're getting better and better. We're right there. All we have to do is just finish."

A year after winning the Heisman Trophy and leading Texas to an upset of Southern California in the Bowl Championship Series national title game at the Rose Bowl, Young is trying to bring some order to a chaotic season in Nashville, and has impressed teammates and team officials.

"Some guys have expected a whole lot of me since I touched down here," said Young, who was taken third overall in the draft, behind North Carolina State linebacker Mario Williams and Southern California running back Reggie Bush.

"They liked how I was, not just as a player but as a person. I think I got a lot of respect from those guys ever since that day. Now that I'm playing more, they see me out there talking, trying to keep everyone up. They really like me."

Young stepped into a quarterback controversy that started with longtime Titans star Steve McNair being traded to the Ravens and continued when unhappy starter Billy Volek was traded last month to the San Diego Chargers.

After veteran Kerry Collins proved to be a disaster, Young was named the starter.

The Titans were blown out by the Cowboys in his debut, and many expected a repeat last week in Indianapolis.

Offensive coordinator Norm Chow called eight straight running plays to start at the RCA Dome, the last of which resulted in a 19-yard touchdown run by Young.

Only some last-minute heroics from Colts quarterback Peyton Manning prevented Young from notching his first NFL win.

"We stayed with our game plan and it worked pretty successfully the whole game," Young said. "We just have to finish."

Young finished that game with only 63 passing yards - he was 10-for-21 overall, with an interception - and had 46 rushing yards on four attempts. For the season, Young is 34-for-74 for 351 yards, with two touchdown passes and four interceptions. He also has 14 carries for 70 yards.

"It's pretty much the same concepts; you're just using different terminology than you used in college," said Young, whose 46.6 passer rating is the lowest among NFL starters.

Titans coach Jeff Fisher said that Young's performance in a couple of preseason games told him that the rookie might be ready to start this season.

"We started him, with intention, against the Green Bay Packers in the fourth preseason game and he played just about the entire first half and did a nice job. Granted, it's the preseason, but he was able to execute," Fisher said this week. "As he assumed the No. 2 role, he got plenty of practice reps.

"At San Diego [in Week 2], we had planned on playing him several series. Because of the way the game went, we ended up playing him the fourth quarter in its entirety and he was effective. As a staff, we dialed things up he had not necessarily practiced, and I thought, for the most part, he executed."

Chow, who worked with Heisman Trophy winners Matt Leinart and Carson Palmer at USC, as well as Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer at BYU and Philip Rivers as a freshman at North Carolina State, sees his latest protege making significant progress.

Chow has said that Young is "very determined to be a great football player. He studies, he works, and he's disciplined. He has great leadership skills. He's determined, and because of that, the work ethic comes along with it. If you're willing to work at it like he is, you continue to get better."

Because of Young's mobility, the Redskins will have to prepare differently for the Titans than they have for any of their previous five opponents. That the Titans have simplified their offense for the rookie could enable the Redskins to lie in wait for Young, who has also fumbled four times.

Notes -- Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said that it will be a "game-time decision" regarding the availability of veteran cornerback Shawn Springs, who has missed the first five games after abdominal surgery in August. Springs practiced again yesterday after making an interception in practice Thursday. ... The Redskins likely will be without starting defensive tackles Joe Salave'a and Cornelius Griffin, as well as reserve wide receiver David Patten, against the Titans.

don.markus@baltsun.com

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