When Vince Young speaks these days, he talks a lot about listening.
The Tennessee Titans’ quarterback makes it clear that he’s all ears this offseason now that he’s once again the team’s starting quarterback.
In 2007, after being named the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, he heard a lot of criticism over his decision to return to school and to spend time away from Middle Tennessee rather than take part in conditioning work. He managed to help the Titans reach the playoffs that fall but was sent to the bench one game into the 2008 season when his effort and dedication were called into question by an incident on the sideline during a victory over Jacksonville.
This time, having regained his starting job from Kerry Collins after six straight defeats to open the 2009 season, he’s focused on what’s being said now as well as some of the things he’s heard during his first three years in the league.
What remains unchanged is that he once again will be one of the most-watched players on the roster this week when veterans return for two more days of organized team activities (OTAs), Tuesday and Thursday.
“I feel comfortable,” he said. “I feel like I’m more at home, getting more comfortable with the people around here – the team, the chemistry with the staff. The rest is up to me to continue to keep working behind the scenes. … Right now, I feel pretty comfortable with the offense and some of the new things we’re throwing in right now.
“I just want to keep building off that.”
The best way to do that, he reasons, is to spend time in the building that serves as the Titans’ training headquarters. In particular he pays attention during position meetings, which typically include him and two other players – Collins and Chris Simms – as well as offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger and quarterbacks coach Craig Johnson.
“We’re a small group, but there’s a lot being said in there and all you have to do is pay attention, take notes and when you get out there on the football field bring out there as well,” Young said. “It’s good to get in there and communicate right now in the offseason with coach Heimerdinger and Craig Johnson as well as the rest of the guys we have at quarterback.”
When he does speak, whether in the meeting room, in the locker room with the entire team or on the practice field, he first thinks about things he’s heard from veterans who no longer are with the team.
“The young faces, like myself, we’ve taken notes from all these guys – Kevin Mawae and Alge Crumpler and Keith Bulluck – and the things they used to say, we’re putting them in our terms now and kind of motivating the guys and leading the guys every day to practice and workouts and things like that,” Young said.
He actually sounds like a player who is much more comfortable with his role and the responsibilities that go along with it than he was a couple years ago.
“I feel pretty good; I feel all right,” he said. “Still, it’s a long way to go. It’s still the beginning of the season. …. I feel like the communication right now between me and Heimerdinger is great. The things that he’s trying to get across to me on the football field and in the film room is showing out there on the field. I want to continue to keep that going, communicating with my receivers and the guys in the huddle.”
To do so requires him to listen.