Titans looking to crank up the first-string offense

Friday, August 24, 2007 at 1:35am

The Tennessee Titans’ first-team offense still has plenty of things to fine-tune before the season opener on Sept. 9 in Jacksonville.

Last Friday’s first-half performance against the New England Patriots was a struggle for the Titans.

How bad was it? Well, it won’t be used for any “How To” videos in executing an NFL offense.

The struggles started with quarterback Vince Young, who completed just 5 of 17 passes for 102 yards and was sacked four times. Young’s numbers would have been worse, but he avoided a sack on one attempted and completed an outlet pass to Bo Scaife that covered 44 yards, mostly thanks to Scaife’s run-after-catch.

But even that went for naught as the Titans were stuffed four times inside the five-yard line just before halftime.

Young’s struggles could be in part due to the fact that he was suspended for a curfew violation in the opener against Washington and was making his first start of the preseason.

“Each week I learn something,” Young said. “Last year I learned a whole lot, and this past week against New England, I learned a lot. So whatever I can take from that game, I just want to continue to learn and get to the point where [I can be like] guys like Kerry Collins and guys who have been here a long time that when they go out there on the football field in how fast they read defenses. I want to get to the point where I can be like that.”

Aside from Young’s problems, the Titans didn’t do themselves any favors with penalties and turnovers either. Ahmard Hall lost a fumbled handoff from Young, and Tennessee was flagged for 10 penalties for 80 yards in the first half against New England.

The fact that the Titans wound up winning the game 27-24 was a credit to the defense and the second-team offense than anything else.

As the Titans travel to Buffalo for tonight’s game, one of the things the offense will be looking to do is a take a step in the right direction.

“We need to get in sync and try to avoid third-and-long situations, because that is what set us back,” Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. “So what we want to do is go in with balance and keep our third-down situations low and move the ball and score points. We have yet to put a touchdown on the board with our starters.”

Titans starters will play the first half of the game and LenDale White is expected to run behind the first-team line. White was out with knee and ankle problems last week against the Patriots, when his preseason start was scheduled.

Whoever starts, the Titans want to establish some sort of rushing attack behind the first-team offensive line.

“We got some work in in the first two weeks in the games, but now it’s time to take the next step. We want to get a win, but we want to get something done positively on offense,” center Kevin Mawae said. “The young guys need to make plays, our receivers, and our running backs need to come out there and do some stuff.”

Mawae said it is important for the offense to find some rhythm now and next week against Green Bay, so everything will be ready for the opening week in Jacksonville.

“We want to get something positive going and finishing off the drive, not killing ourselves with penalties and turnovers and things like that,” Mawae said. “It’s a big step in where we want to go. Next week we go against Green Bay and we want to take another positive step and when Jacksonville gets here we want to be able to eliminate all the mistakes and mental errors, the false starts and the illegal motion penalties — things like that. You’re supposed to get all those kinks out in training camp. If we can do that, we’ll be fine.”

As for starters in tonight’s game regarding other positions, Eric Moulds and Brandon Jones should again get the call at wide receiver.

On defense, rookie first-round pick Michael Griffin bears watching in his first start at cornerback. Lamont Thompson will get the nod at free safety, while Ryan Fowler should get the call at middle linebacker.

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