|NFL Week 8: Raiders at Titans Preview & Picks|
|Written by Anthony Rome|
|Thursday, 25 October 2007 06:09|
Will Young return?
The Tennessee Titans managed to win last weekend without Vince Young, but they'd rather not have to do it again.
The Titans hope to have their young quarterback back behind center Sunday when they host the struggling Oakland Raiders.
Oddsmakers from Bodog.com have made Tennessee -7.5 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday's game, the over/under has been set at 40.5 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 63% of bets for this game have been placed on Tennessee -7.5 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
Young was active for last Sunday's 38-36 win at Houston, but did not play after straining his right quadriceps a week earlier in a 13-10 loss at Tampa Bay. Kerry Collins started in his place and got his first win as Tennessee's starter after losing the first three games of last season before Young took over.
Coach Jeff Fisher said Young, a former Texas high school standout and a star at the University of Texas, could have entered the game against his hometown team if Collins had been injured, but that he wasn't at "full speed."
"I wasn't going to play at all because I didn't have any preparation or practicing," Young said. "I really feel like I need to practice to play. I can't just go out there and go just off talent. That's not the type of guy I am."
Collins, Oakland's quarterback in 2004 and 2005, threw for 280 yards on 25-of-42 passing, but no touchdowns. The Titans (4-2) struggled to finish drives without Young, going 2-for-9 inside the red zone.
Instead, the Titans relied on an NFL-record eight field goals from Rob Bironas to secure the win. Bironas' final field goal, a 29-yarder as time expired, gave Tennessee the win despite allowing 29 points in the fourth quarter.
Bironas also kicked two extra points and set the NFL record for most points by a kicker with 26.
"He could've kicked 10 field goals in this game. And 10 field goals gets you 30 points, and 30 points wins you most ballgames. Who cares about red zone efficiency?" Fisher joked.
Fisher said he expected Young, who is still receiving treatment on the thigh, to return to practice this week and play against the Raiders.
"We're going to be wise about it, and we'll get him back on the practice field and work him into it. I think two weeks will be sufficient from a healing standpoint to where he won't reinjure it," the coach said.
Still, Young's return might not solve all of Tennessee's problems on offense. The Titans rank ninth in the AFC with 22.0 points per game and are 14th in the conference with a 34.6 percent red zone touchdown conversion rate.
Young has thrown six interceptions and just three touchdown passes.
"The opportunities are there. We're just not taking advantage of it," Fisher said of his team's problems in the red zone. "But we're not panicking. We're going to continue to work on it."
While their offense has struggled at times, the Titans usually have been able to rely on their defense despite the bad fourth quarter last week. They are allowing a league-low 59.7 rushing yards per game and rank sixth with 290.0 overall yards yielded per contest.
That does not bode well for an Oakland rushing attack which has managed only 98 yards over its last two games. The Raiders (2-4) averaged a league-best 194.3 yards rushing through the first four weeks of the season, but San Diego and Kansas City have slowed them down by loading the line with defenders.
"Teams are going to stack the box against us," said running back LaMont Jordan, held to 29 yards on 11 carries in last Sunday's 12-10 loss to the Chiefs. "Teams are going to put eight in the box. They're going to do what the two teams have done for the past two weeks."
With the Chiefs focusing on the run, Oakland quarterback Daunte Culpepper completed 18 of 29 passes for 228 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Culpepper might not start again this week. Josh McCown, who started the first three games before being sidelined by a broken toe, said he expects to be close to full speed at practice this week and hopes to reclaim his starting job.
Coach Lane Kiffin wouldn't name a starter, though, and said he does not necessarily believe a starter can't lose his job because of injury.
"We hope that he's out there as if nothing has ever happened," Kiffin said of McCown. "We hope that he's out there and can go through the whole practice and participate at a high level. Like I said to him, we'll figure it out once we see that. There's nothing to figure out right now because we're not practicing."
Oakland has won three of the last four games between the teams, including a 34-25 victory at Tennessee in 2005 in the most recent meeting.
By: Staff Writers - Email Us
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