|Postseason experience key ingredient for young, rebuilding Titans|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 04 January 2008 13:45|
``I want to play well. I'm going to play hard, but I really do want to enjoy it,'' the Pro Bowl defensive end said. ``It took me a long time to get here, you know. I don't know when we'll be back. Hopefully, we'll be back in the playoffs every year. But I want to make sure I enjoy it.''
Vanden Bosch isn't alone in making his postseason debut Sunday when the Titans (10-6) play the Chargers (11-6) in their AFC wild-card game. The defensive end who has played in one Pro Bowl is among 35 Titans preparing for their first NFL playoff game.
That group includes quarterback Vince Young, running back LenDale White, possibly the entire offensive line and six defensive starters.
But if any have questions on what to expect, they can look to a nearby locker for some advice. The franchise that stripped its roster of its experienced veterans in 2004 and 2005 before rebuilding the past two years has 18 players on the roster with 56 playoff wins.
Out of that group, 12 have been added since the 2005 season ended. That doesn't even include safety Chris Hope, who won a Super Bowl with Pittsburgh that year, because he's currently on injured reserve.
Veteran linebacker Keith Bulluck, one of the six Titans who played in the team's last playoff game in 2003, said it would be crazy if they only had himself to tap for tips on what to expect.
``These guys have won Super Bowls, played on championship teams and played a lot of winning football,'' Bulluck said. ``It's definitely beneficial. There's a few guys in each of the position rooms on this team for the young guys to get that experience.''
The 18 Titans have started 54 of 103 playoff games with a combined 56 victories, and cornerback Reynaldo Hill said he has tried to talk to everyone about the playoff difference when they joined the team. He has had cornerback Nick Harper, with a Super Bowl ring from Indianapolis, to quiz.
But Hill said he still doesn't know what to really expect.
``We're in the playoffs officially on paper, but we haven't played the game yet. We play the game and come out with a victory, then it's all worthwhile,'' Hill said.
Veteran receiver Eric Moulds has reminded teammates to study their playbooks, watch more film, be ready to adjust to something they've never seen on the sideline. He lost to Jacksonville while in Buffalo as a rookie on a last-second kick, leading to another piece of advice: Every inch matters.
He's been asked a bunch of questions. What is it like in the playoffs? What's the scenery? Is it louder?
``It's all of those things above, but you still have to go out and play relaxed football and try not to do the extra stuff,'' Moulds said. ``That's when you get in trouble is when guys try to make a play when they just should do their job.''
Coach Jeff Fisher, 2-0 in the wild-card round and 5-4 in the postseason overall, has been talking to his team all week about what to expect. He said the other key is keeping the same schedule and approach used all year.
``You just get them ready for a very emotional start of the game, a very physical game and understand that you have to make plays,'' he said.
The Titans do know one thing about the playoffs: It's win or go home.
``And we know that none of us want to go home,'' linebacker Stephen Tulloch said. ``We have to embrace this moment because there's no tomorrow. ... If we don't, we'll be here turning in our equipment Monday.''