Vince Young’s play on the field isn’t the only thing that appears to be improving for the Tennessee Titans quarterback.
Through three games as the starter again, Young also appears more confident and knowledgeable regarding his role as the team’s leader in the huddle and at the line of scrimmage.
“He does seem a little more confident,” tackle Michael Roos said. “For whatever reason if the play clock is running down or we don’t have a play, he’s a little bit more confident to just call a play and we run whatever we have with the personnel we have in the huddle. [He’s able] to just run a play and take more command of the game.”
Young said his preparation has been better in his second go-around as the starter. His first tenure started off well in 2006, as he won NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, but Young took steps backwards in 2007, even as the Titans record improved from 8-8 to 10-6.
Then last year’s well-documented fall from grace took Young completely out of the plans last year. But during his time behind Kerry Collins, it has become increasingly evident that he was working harder to succeed if and when the chance came to start again.
“Preparation is the key. I feel like me and [Mike] Heimerdinger are very close by Wednesday. We doing a lot of studying,” Young said. “When we are sitting in the office and things like that, we get to see different things that defenses are doing, that they might do on me, that we can take advantage with our receivers and C.J. [Chris Johnson]. … I just want to go out there and do my job as a quarterback and just lead the guys down the field and that is what I have been doing.”
Titans coach Jeff Fisher praised Young for his work in three straight wins. During that time, Young has gone 44 of 62 for 507 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
“He’s had three very, very solid ballgames. His numbers would reflect that,” Fisher said. “It’s the first time we’ve had a quarterback rating three consecutive games over 90 since (2003) which I think was Steve’s (McNair) MVP year. He’s put three solid games together.”
Results, plus Young’s preparation and practice work, are slowly helping to rebuild trust in him as the team’s offensive leader.
“I think he’s been in the system now. That’s the key,” Fisher said. “He’s well into his second year in the system so he’s becoming more and more comfortable with the system. He can specialize the extra work. He’s getting all the reps on the practice field as the starter would. In this offense, it’s paying off for him.”
During the Titans’ six-game losing streak to start the year, running back Chris Johnson had just 95 carries. He now has 75 carries in the past three games. Fisher said he isn’t worried about the extra workload wearing the NFL’s leading rusher down.
“No, I think he’s getting stronger. I think he’s better now than he was to start the season. Now whether that was the normal wear and tear of training camp, I don’t know,” Fisher said. “He’s running the ball as good as he ever has. He’s not showing any signs of wear down. He’s staying healthy. Even though it appears he’s taking a big hit, his cleats are out of the ground and he’s just bouncing right back up and he’s protecting the football.”
Johnson showed his strength bouncing off two Bills tacklers after being wrapped up at the 1, escaping their grasp and going into the end zone for a touchdown.
Cornerback Nick Harper is still on the mend, according to Fisher, even though he was cleared last week for contact again. The Titans don’t have to rush him with Rod Hood having played well with three interceptions in three games.
“Nick was cleared last week for contact. He was cleared to play last week, yes, by the medical staff,” Fisher said Monday. “Being cleared by the medical staff and going back in the lineup and playing with a plate in your arm is two different things. We’ll just have to wait and see how he does this week.”
Grounds crew were busy Monday giving LP Field some new sod to help the surface for the remainder of the 2009 season.
The entire field, except for the end zones, are getting new sod put down.