Another QB injury means Titans might need to rely on rookie

Monday, November 15, 2010 at 5:33pm

Change at quarterback has become almost a constant in recent weeks for the Tennessee Titans.

If it happens again Sunday, though, it will be different.

The calf injury that knocked Kerry Collins from Sunday’s 29-17 loss at Miami will keep the veteran quarterback sidelined for several weeks. That means barring a roster move, rookie Rusty Smith, a seventh-round draft pick, will be Vince Young’s backup against the Washington Redskins (noon, LP Field).

Coach Jeff Fisher said Monday that no transaction is imminent.

“(Smith) has a pretty good feel for the system and he’s got, obviously, two pretty good quarterbacks ahead of him to look up to, and he’s watching a lot of tape and preparing himself,” Fisher said. “If he has to go, I’m sure he’ll do well.”

Never during the franchise’s time in Tennessee, which dates back to 1997, has a first-year quarterback attempted a regular-season pass.

The closest the Titans ever came was in 1999 when Kevin Daft, a sixth-round draft pick spent five weeks as the backup to Neil O’Donnell while Steve McNair was inactive following back surgery. O’Donnell took every snap at center during that time.

Matt Mauck actually started the final game of the 2005 season ahead of Billy Volek when McNair was inactive with a pectoral injury. Earlier that season he was the No. 2 behind Volek for one game (McNair was inactive with a back injury) and ultimately made his NFL debut when Volek was knocked from the contest with a concussion.

Mauck, however, spent all of 2004 with the Denver Broncos, primarily on the practice squad. He completed 15 of 27 passes for 136 yards with no touchdowns and one interception for the Titans and was pulled at halftime of the season-ending start, a 40-13 loss at Jacksonville.

In 1997, James Ritchey came on for the final series of a blowout loss against Baltimore and completed his only two passes. Similar to Mauck, that was Ritchey’s second year in the league. He did not throw a pass in 1996.

Recently, it has proved much more problematic to get through a game with just one quarterback. In fact, it has happened just once in the last four contests.

Young started at Jacksonville on Oct. 18 but left the game early when he sustained knee and ankle injuries to his left leg. Collins played all of the next game, a victory over Philadelphia, but then replaced Young late in a loss at San Diego on Oct. 31 when Young reinjured the left ankle.

That ailment was enough of a concern Sunday at Miami that Collins was named the starter.

“It was clear to us in practice on Wednesday and Thursday that (Young) didn’t have the mobility,” Fisher said. “So much of his accuracy is heavily dependent on his feet, and he didn’t have the mobility at practice. He was limping as he was trying to carry out fakes and those types of things.

“We figured that giving him another week to heal up would be beneficial for him. We certainly didn’t want to put him in the ballgame and have him reinjure the ankle.”

Young was forced into action anyway when Collins was hurt, without contact, in the closing seconds of the first half.

Following an MRI, Fisher classified Collins’ injury s a calf strain.

“He’ll probably miss several weeks,” Fisher said. “I don’t know how many but he certainly won’t play this week or be available to play the next two.”

He sounded a much more optimistic note regarding Young’s health.

“We can assume that the ankle injury is behind him,” Fisher said.

So is a rookie -- on the depth chart, that is.

3 Comments on this post:

By: PaulRevere on 11/16/10 at 12:06

"Never during the franchise’s time in Tennessee, which dates back to 1997, has a first-year quarterback attempted a regular-season pass."
Didn't Vince Young throw several passes and start several games as a first year quarterback in '06? I must be losing it...

By: GuardianDevil01 on 11/16/10 at 5:05

Paul, I think we are having the same hallucination! Young started a dozen or so games in his rookie year of 2006.

By: TITAN1 on 11/16/10 at 6:02

City Paper, please bring back Terry McCormick.