Cortland Finnegan does not want to get kicked out of Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans.
That’s why the Tennessee Titans’ cornerback was careful not to put his foot in his mouth Wednesday. When asked about his pending matchup with Houston wide receiver Andre Johnson (noon, Sunday, LP Field), he simply smiled and tried to say as little as possible.
“I want to be out there playing for this team,” Finnegan said. “I know they want me out there. We just want to win the next football game.”
Finnegan and Johnson both were ejected with 7:53 to go in the Texans’ 20-0 victory on Nov. 28 at Houston. An exchange of insults — or something along those lines — escalated with each ripping off the other’s helmet. Before it was over, Johnson landed several punches to the head of Finnegan, who did not retaliate in an obvious attempt to keep from being thrown out of the contest.
“I don’t think you ever know personally exactly what’s going on out there between two guys, but they always play hard and they’re always getting after each other and they challenge each other and they both rise to the challenge,” Houston coach Gary Kubiak said. “That’s what makes them both great players —that’s why they are who they are and what they are as players because of their drive to be the best.
“…As a coach you appreciate watching great players go at it and how important it is to them."
Johnson is among the NFL’s top five in receptions and receiving yards. He also is tied for 12th with seven touchdown receptions. He had nine receptions for 56 yards in his abbreviated appearance against the Titans. It was his fewest receiving yards against Tennessee in more than two years.
Finnegan is one of four Titans with at least two interceptions this season, which makes it his third straight with multiple picks. Only one of his 13 career interceptions has come against the Texans.
“[Johnson] is an excellent player, one of the best in the game,” Finnegan said. “... I always get to see where I’m at as far as a defensive back. So I look forward to playing against receivers like that.”
He did get playful at points, such as when he said he and Johnson planned to “exchange grandma’s recipe on how to make pecan pie for Christmas” or when he joked that he looked forward to seeing Johnson’s “beautiful smile.”
Not long after he conceded that he’s regarded by those close to him as something of a “smart-butt.”
He also said that Johnson had not reached out in an attempt to apologize.
“I wasn’t looking for one either,” Finnegan said. “This is football. We just go out there and try to win.”
Mostly, though, he tried to deflect any discussion about the incident last month.
“We’re trying to win a football game, man,” he said. “They’re a really good football team. We had troubles with them … the last time we played them. We’re just looking for a victory.
“…I look forward to it being a clean, physical football game, putting all that in the past and playing clean football.”