Haynesworth makes his return, aids Titans in win

Monday, December 3, 2007 at 12:22am

Some of Albert Haynesworth is apparently better than none at all for the Tennessee Titans.

Haynesworth returned to the Titans’ lineup and started at defensive tackle after missing three games with a right hamstring injury. Haynesworth’s impact was not immediately felt, as Houston gashed the Titans on its opening drive for a 76-yard touchdown march, but after adjustments, Tennessee’s defense improved as the game went on.

Haynesworth had just two tackles and did not play in the fourth quarter after the hamstring tightened up on him during the game.

“I didn’t finish the game. They pulled me early in the fourth quarter,” Haynesworth said. “It was just a precaution. It just got tight, and they didn’t want me to make it worse or anything. So I just sat out the fourth quarter.”

Titans coach Jeff Fisher was happy to have Haynesworth back.

“The guys were excited to get him back, and it was good to have him back in there,” Fisher said. “I don’t think he had any setbacks, so therefore we will watch him this week and get him ready. He should continue to improve. I hope this week he will be full speed; he was about 80 percent today.”

Haynesworth’s presence made the other defenders’ jobs much easier.

“He anchors our pass rush,” said defensive end Antwan Odom, whose sack in the first half knocked Matt Schaub out of the game with a shoulder injury. “They use two guys to block him, so it frees up a lot of people.”

DEBUT: Mike Williams did not have a reception in his Titans debut Sunday, but was pleased nonetheless to have participated in a Tennessee victory against Houston.

“This is good. This is a good atmosphere. The intensity was there today and the focus was there today,” Williams said.

Titans quarterback Vince Young threw Williams’ way twice in the game. The first pass was batted down at the line of scrimmage, and the second pass hit Texans cornerback Fred Bennett in the backside as he ran alongside Williams.

INJURIES: Williams could move up in the pecking order for wide receivers as Brandon Jones suffered a first-quarter groin injury after being hit and dropping a pass. Jones did not return to the game for Tennessee.

Running back LenDale White left the game in the second half after dislocating and tearing open his finger. White returned to the sideline, but did not play in the game. He finished with 60 yards on 12 carries.

The Texans suffered a couple of tough injuries in the game, losing Schaub to a left shoulder injury, and then losing guard Fred Weary to what appeared to be a gruesome leg injury.

OOPS: The Titans managed to avoid a muffed punt by Chris Barclay in the first half, thanks to a holding penalty on the Texans that nullified the turnover. However, rather than go back to Barclay, who was returning punts for the first time, the Titans used starting cornerback Cortland Finnegan.

“You’ve got to be ready for anything here. Coach believed in me, and I’ve just got to do the right things back there. It was nothing new to me, and I just want to make a play if I get the opportunity,” Finnegan said.

HONORED: The Titans honored long-time Oilers/Titans offensive lineman Bruce Matthews for his enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Matthews was inducted into the Hall in Canton, Ohio, in August, and the Titans honored him with a halftime ceremony Sunday against the Texans.

Matthews recalled coming to Tennessee when the team moved from Houston in 1997.

“I came up to Tennessee with such mixed emotions. I was against the move. I was just amazed at everything that happened here, let alone going to the Super Bowl,” Matthews said. “The way the Tennessee fans embraced us, and me personally and my family, it was really a great five years we had up here. It’s strange coming back. Part of me is, ‘Yeah, I was just playing out here,’ and that was six years ago. Time flies. It’s really amazing.”

IN THE HOUSE: Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue was in the crowd at LP Field Sunday sitting on the lower level near the 50-yard line.

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