Kerry Collins will be the Tennessee Titans starting quarterback for as long as the team is playing well under his direction, Coach Jeff Fisher said Monday.
Collins completed 14 of 21 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown in replacing the injured Vince Young Sunday in a 24-7 victory over Cincinnati.
“I don’t know what Vince’s condition is, but as long as we’re winning, Kerry is our starting quarterback,” Fisher said Monday.
Young sprained the MCL of his left knee in the opener against Jacksonville, and moments before that, appeared reluctant to re-enter the game after his second interception.
Throughout last week, a saga unfolded regarding the police looking for Young for a period of about four hours before he was located, with the Titans and police at the time believing he was potentially in danger emotionally.
“We’re going to get Vince back and work with him and get him back involved in the offense, but Kerry is going to go ahead and play for us until either he struggles or whatever else happens,” Fisher said. “You saw by the way he played, and in light of everything, it just makes sense to go with that.”
Collins said in the aftermath of the Sunday’s win that he is excited about the chance to play and practice regularly again.
“It changes my mindset going into games,” Collins said Sunday. “I just want to continue to have good weeks of practice and take the focus on the next opponent. I think today was a good start.”
Fisher said he had not spoken to Young about the decision to stick with Collins. Young stated last Thursday that he believed the starting job still belonged to him once his knee heals.
“I haven’t talked to him. He came in this morning and rehabbed,” Fisher said. “He’s going to get back. He’s eventually going to be under center for us. When that happens, I don’t know, but right now, Kerry is our quarterback.”
Titans players expressed confidence in Collins, a 14-year veteran who quarterbacked the New York Giants to a Super Bowl in 2000, running the show.
“I just want to win games. Whoever is under center, as long as we’re winning games, that’s what we have to rally behind,” tight end Alge Crumpler said.
Cornerback Cortland Finnegan said he is fine with whatever decision is made by the coaching staff.
“We’re one big family here, and whoever fills the role, whatever need be, we’re just going to stand behind them. Coach Fish makes those decisions, and we’re going to stand behind him totally. Whatever he says, we’re going to stand behind it,” Finnegan said.
PAYING TRIBUTE: Finnegan appeared at Monday’s press conference wearing a blue Nike t-shirt with an orange outlined No. 85 on it, and was immediately asked if it was a tribute to Bengals wide receiver Chad Ocho Cinco (formerly Johnson), whom Finnegan went against in Sunday’s 24-7 win.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the matchup yesterday. I think highly of him,” said Finnegan, who picked off his third pass in two games. “He had some good things to say about me which is going to motivate me to become a better football player.”
Finnegan said he purchased the shirt about a week ago, “in hopes that it wouldn’t so south and it didn’t, so I could wear it today.”
Finnegan said that during the game the Bengals start told him he felt like Finnegan was one of the NFL’s top cornerbacks, something the former seventh-round pick took as high praise.
“He said he felt like I was one of the top corners, and that I just need to keep improving myself and working hard,” Finnegan said. “Coming from somebody like that, it really meant a lot to me because he’s such an elite receiver.”
Ocho Cinco (Johnson) had four catches for just 37 yards Sunday.
Finnegan currently leads the NFL with three interceptions in two games, putting him on pace, of course, for an unattainable 24 picks.
Asked jokingly about that mark, he replied, “Not gonna happen.”
ONE SHORT: When the Bengals scored their only touchdown on a 13-yard fourth-down run by Chris Perry, the Titans actually had only 10 players on the field, missing one of their defensive linemen on the play.
“It was a miscommunication,” Fisher said. “We talked about that this morning, Jimmy [defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz] is going to take that one. He repped everything and sent a defensive package out against an offensive personnel grouping that we hadn’t worked. We didn’t get it communicated on the sideline.”
The play might have still been stopped, but linebacker Stephen Tulloch slid off Perry attempting to make a tackle.
“I think Stephen’s situation was unique in that it was a big hole,” Fisher said. “He read the play, he scraped in position but we’re a man short and I think [that] caught him by surprise. Their only touchdown came against a defense in which we had only 10 players on the field.”
INJURIES: Fisher said the Titans had three or four players who did not finish the game, but that none of those injuries are serious. He did not name the players.
Center Kevin Mawae missed a bit of time after being hit in the back by running back LenDale White at the bottom of the pile.
HEALTHY: Fisher said he was pleased that kicker Rob Bironas not only made his only field goal attempt, a 34-yarder in the gusty winds, but that Bironas is completely over the groin injury that cost him the preseason. He said that showed on Bironas’ kickoffs Sunday, which included a pair of touchbacks.
“He had not kicked off all preseason,” Fisher said. “He worked out last week. The leg injury is completely behind him; the leg was strong, and he drove it.”