Titans' good example to Falcons on ignoring player suspension Print
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Thursday, 04 October 2007 12:33
NFL Headline News

 NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -The Tennessee Titans are proof a team can survive and even thrive during a teammate's suspension. It's a lesson the Atlanta Falcons are working hard to copy.
These teams meet Sunday in a game that could be known more for the players not allowed to play because of highly publicized legal problems.
Atlanta's Michael Vick is suspended indefinitely and Tennessee cornerback Adam ``Pacman'' Jones is out for 2007 as punishment for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.
But the Titans (2-1) had more time to prepare for not having Jones around, and they aren't missing him anywhere on the field. They go into Sunday's game looking for a second straight victory and their fourth 3-1 start under coach Jeff Fisher.
``Any better, we would be 3-0,'' Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck said of their ability to adjust.
``We haven't missed a beat because really we, I guess, had the privilege to start the season knowing we were going to be without Pac. ... On the other hand, for the Falcons, it's the main position. It's the quarterback. The No. 1 spot. It's a little harder. But I think they're playing fairly good football.''
Joey Harrington is looking much more comfortable, and the Falcons finally have their first victory after starting 0-3.
``It changed the tone for us,'' Harrington said. ``Every time you can get that first win out of the way, it takes a big weight off your shoulders.''
The Titans' biggest challenge now may be bouncing back from their bye, which broke up their three-game trip through the NFC South. They won at New Orleans 31-14 on Sept. 24, a victory that improved Fisher to 12-1 against NFC South teams.
Vince Young is 4-1 against NFC teams himself, and he is completing 62.7 percent of his passes in his second season. If the Falcons want to make Young throw by stopping a unit rushing for 173.3 yards per game, veteran receiver Eric Moulds thinks Young will make them pay.
``In talking to Norm Chow, he wants to open it up and do some different things,'' Moulds said of the Titans' offensive coordinator. ``That's what we do. We're a physical team and let our defense make plays and get turnovers. But we're going to make more plays down the field.''
Fisher isn't letting his Titans take the Falcons lightly, not with their own example of rebounding from an 0-5 start a year ago before rolling to an 8-8 finish.
``Everybody counted us out completely, and we found a way to stay alive. We showed improvement. So I think you have to be careful. Things are going to turn around,'' Fisher said.
The Falcons impressed Tennessee with their first victory by beating the Houston Texans 26-16.
First-year coach Bobby Petrino has tried to keep his Falcons focused on one goal: playing better football. They've scored more points than the week before in each game this season, and Petrino credits Harrington and how they've molded the offense to him.
``He's done a nice job of working on leading the team and doing the other things outside of the Xs and Os that you need to do to have a chance to be successful,'' Petrino said.
Harrington already has thrown for 983 yards, more than twice what Young has racked up for Tennessee. He's also been sacked 16 times through four games, a statistic skewed by seven in the Falcons' loss at Jacksonville.
With the Titans hitting quarterbacks early and often, Petrino wants to make sure his Falcons protect Harrington by running the ball. That won't be easy with the Titans allowing an average of 63.3 yards rushing per game.
``We don't want to get into a position where we have to throw the football,'' Petrino said. ``We have to be able to run the ball, use our quick passing game and use play action. They'll tee off to rush the passer if they know it's going to be a pass.''
This is a key game for the Titans, who have won eight of their last 10 going back to last season. This will be only their second home game until Oct. 28, and they're breaking out a new uniform color combination for the Falcons.
``We need to get another win here and take it on the road as we go into the rest of this month,'' said Titans center Kevin Mawae of what will be his 200th NFL game. ``We're just going to worry about football and not the circumstances surrounding the game.''
 

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