Two games into the preseason, and the Tennessee Titans appear to have plenty of reason to be excited about their 2009 draft class.
Their early contributions were evident last week in the Hall of Fame Game against Buffalo and on center stage in Saturday night’s 27-20 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Not only was there first-round pick Kenny Britt’s making his debut with 89 yards receiving and a touchdown catch from Vince Young, but there were highlights all up and down the Titans rookie class.
There was tight end Jared Cook continuing his sparkling work throughout training camp and preseason, leading the team in receptions with six catches for 56 yards.
Running back Javon Ringer showcased his abilities in the third quarter when he sidestepped a Buccaneers defender after taking the handoff from Patrick Ramsey and racing 36 yards for a score.
And there was cornerback Ryan Mouton stealing a pass from Bucs first-round pick Josh Freeman and taking it to end zone for Tennessee’s final score of the night.
Also, in early statistics from the game, rookie linebacker Gerald McRath turned in a team-high seven tackles in a reserve role.
“Javon, Kenny Mouton, all of us are trying to work and trying to get the job done,” said Cook, a third-round pick from South Carolina.
Not only did the rookies make solid contributions, but they also appear to be picking up the nuances of the game rather quickly.
For instance, Britt adjusted properly to a go route when Young began to scramble and found himself wide open in the end zone for the TD catch.
Ringer made a nice adjustment to side-step a Tampa Bay defender on his touchdown run, and wound up with 51 yards rushing on seven attempts.
“I saw the blitz coming and thought we were going to check out of it. Since I did see the blitz coming, I just wanted to make sure I got the ball out of our quarterback’s hands, because he had his back turned and I didn’t want it to be a fumble,” Ringer said. “My goal was to just get the ball where I could take the hit, but I was able to side-step him and make a cut and get up field.”
As for Mouton, when he caught the ball intended for Patrick Carter, he had one thing on his mind – the end zone.
“My eyes got big when I saw it. I was just hoping to get down the sidelines and not get caught by anybody,” Mouton said. “When we get out there, it’s all about trying to contribute somewhere. We’re doing a good job of that, and hopefully, we’ll just keep it going.”
Doug Williams, the only black quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl, had some advice for Young, who told Esquire magazine he wanted to be the next black quarterback to win a championship and go to the Hall of Fame someday.
“I wish he hadn’t said that because people tend to take whatever you say and twist it and turn it and do whatever. The good thing about it, the kid has got confidence and I like that about him, but I think there’s something better unsaid. But at the same time, I don’t think the media should take as much from it and try to make it a negative toward Vince Young. That’s the problem I have with it, not that problem that he feels that way,” Williams said.
Asked for his quick evaluation of Young, Williams offered this after watching Young in the first half of Saturday’s game.
“It’s obvious the guy has got some talent. He’s made some good throws to the outside, the deep pass and his athletic ability. He’s not playing with all the starters, but I think you see confidence in him. He’s got more confidence tonight that I saw on TV last week,” he said.
Young certainly still has a fan in Titans owner Bud Adams, who watched Saturday night’s game.
“He’s been on of my favorite quarterbacks from when we drafted him in 2006. He was Rookie of the Year, and in 2007 led us to the playoffs,” Adams said. “Now he had a little problem in 2008, but he’s coming out of it and doing a real good job. He’s going to be a great player and a great quarterback for us.”
Starting right tackle David Stewart was not in uniform for tonight’s game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers because of soreness in his knee.
Mike Otto got the start at right tackle for the Tennessee Titans as Stewart has soreness in his knee.
Others who did not play tonight include fullback Casey Cramer, safety Nick Schommer, safety Vincent Fuller, receiver Mark Jones, receiver Chris Davis, linebacker Stephen Tulloch, linebacker Colin Allred, defensive end Jacob Ford and defensive tackle Jason Jones.
In an ugly first half filled with mistakes by both teams, one of the more bizarre plays came when Fernando Velasco’s snap to Young in the shotgun was short, forcing him to go to a knee to grab the ball.
Young tried to flip the ball to his right to LenDale White, but tossed the ball over his head. White then chased the ball and kicked it out of bounds drawing a penalty that was declined to bring up fourth down.
“I don’t know where the hell that came from. I don’t know the rule about that,” White said. “All I know was I wasn’t going to be the one diving on that pile and having everybody else diving on me.
Honestly, it was a genius play on my behalf, because I kicked the ball out and we get a penalty. If they take the penalty, we get another try on third down.”
White, who christened himself and Chris Johnson as “Smash and Dash” passed by while Adams was talking to reporters, and said there was a new member of their club, referring to Adams as “Smash, Dash and Cash.”