Anatomy of defeat: Turnovers plague Titans in preseason losses

Sunday, August 29, 2010 at 6:36pm

It’s anatomy so basic that it can be summarized in song. The hand bone’s connected to the wrist bone and so on up the arm until it’s eventually connected to the shoulder bone.

It made perfect sense to coach Jeff Fisher, therefore, that the ball was separated from Damian Williams’ hand during a second-quarter punt return Saturday given that the rookie wide receiver sustained a separated shoulder on the hit.

“You have to hang onto the football but his shoulder popped out,” Fisher said Sunday afternoon. “Sometimes it is hard to hang onto the football when your shoulder pops out.”

The turnover was the first of three committed by the Tennessee Titans in their 15-7 preseason loss to the Carolina Panthers. Quarterbacks Kerry Collins and Rusty Smith each threw an interception in the second half.

Twice now – in three preseason outings – the Titans have committed three turnovers, and both times they were beaten. They also lost one fumble and had two passes intercepted in the 20-18 defeat at Seattle on Aug. 14.

In between, they topped Arizona 24-10 in a game in which they did not give it up once.

“We are playing a lot of people,” Fisher said. “We are trying to get a lot of things done as it relates to individual players, a lot of the young players.”

Half of Tennessee’s six giveaways (that matches the number of touchdowns it has scored this preseason) have come from rookies – third-round choice Williams, who committed the fumble and seventh-round pick Rusty Smith, who has thrown an interception in both defeats.

Also, the lost fumble at Seattle came when Fernando Velasco, a third-year pro who has appeared in one regular-season contest, prematurely snapped the ball while quarterback Chris Simms tried to make adjustments at the line of scrimmage.

The good news for the Titans is that opponents have converted the giveaways into just three points.

Seattle scored nothing off its three takeaways.

Carolina got a 41-yard field goal, which concluded the scoring, after Collins was picked on second-and-25 (the result of an incompletion and back-to-back penalties) from the Titans’ 24 with just over eight minutes to play. Before the kick, the Panthers’ offense actually lost a yard on the possession.

“(Collins) needs to throw the ball away or take the check down but he got pressured and tried to fit it in considering the down and distance situation, which we shouldn’t have been in because I don’t think either one of those two penalties should have been called,” Fisher said.

Coincidentally, that pass was intended for Williams, whose shoulder popped back into place quickly after it was knocked out.

“He came back in and finished playing the game, so he won’t miss time,” Fisher said. “That is part of the preseason and part of teaching and learning from mistakes.”