Titans, Redskins both looking to get off to fast start in preseason Print
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Friday, 10 August 2007 14:01
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 NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -Tennessee fullback Ahmard Hall has nothing but good memories of Washington, thanks to the Redskins.
The Titans stumbled into Washington last season at 0-5 and pulled out a 25-22 victory that was the first of eight wins in the final 11 games. Now the Titans return on Saturday night to start the preseason.
``We're trying to pick up where we left off when we last played them,'' Hall said.
Both teams want to win early and often in hopes of starting a habit that will carry into the regular season when the games count. The Titans went 1-3 in the preseason last year, and Washington was 0-4 and ended up 5-11 in the regular season.
The Titans and Redskins both had rookie quarterbacks who took over starting duties part of the way through last season - Vince Young had his first NFL victory at Washington, while Jason Campbell became Washington's starter for the final seven games.
Campbell will get his chance to see if he can improve on the Redskins' offense a year ago. They didn't score a single point in four exhibitions and didn't get inside an opponent's 20-yard line.
``It's a better opportunity for us this year. ... We know more of the offense going into the season. We've had a whole year-and-a-half to learn it,'' Campbell said of the offense installed last year by assistant coach Al Saunders.
The Redskins won't have all the pieces available Saturday night.
Running back Clinton Portis isn't expected to play as he deals with tendinitis in his knee, and backup Ladell Betts is recovering from a neck stinger. The offensive line will feature rookie free agent Stephon Heyer of Maryland starting in place of injured left tackle Chris Samuels, and Todd Wade in his first game at left guard.
Heyer will play with a sore hamstring - and some butterflies.
``I've just got to come out there and play hard and play physical, do what I've been coached, and take it play by play,'' he said.
Washington at least had the chance to break up the monotony of training camp by scrimmaging with Baltimore. The Titans haven't faced anyone but themselves since reporting July 27, and Young said he's tired of looking at the light blue jerseys of the Tennessee defense.
``Now it's time for us to see somebody else different,'' he said. ``They have some great guys on the Washington football team. I look forward to matching up with them, looking forward to seeing what our receivers can do. (Justin) Gage, some of the new guys, see them in action for the first time.''
Young and his backups, Kerry Collins and Tim Rattay, may not see the usual basic defenses of preseason. Washington assistant coach Gregg Williams is a former defensive coordinator for Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher and a guy who loves to blitz.
Williams wants the Redskins ready for a physical game.
``We're going to get tested more down there because I have a lot of respect for what Jeff Fisher and Mike Munchak do in the run game,'' he said. ``This will be a real test for us on how physical they are because they have a very physical training camp with a lot of fights at practice. Our guys aren't doing that.''
Washington added middle linebacker London Fletcher this offseason to strengthen the middle, brought back Fred Smoot to the secondary, and added cornerbacks David Macklin and Jerametrius Butler.
The Titans have lots of starting positions up for grabs this preseason, ranging from running back to wide receiver on offense, and middle linebacker, cornerbacks and free safety on defense. Fisher isn't identifying starters, saying to check back Saturday night at kickoff.
But if veteran running back Chris Brown, back on a one-year deal, starts against Washington, LenDale White likely would start next week at New England. The Titans' starting cornerbacks could be free agent signee Nick Harper and Reynaldo Hill or Cortland Finnegan.
``This one's going to be interesting,'' Fisher said. ``Their defense didn't finish as well as they would have liked last year, nor did we. So I think both defenses have something to prove. We'd like to start off on the right foot.''
 

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