Maybe Vince Young actually threw the ball too well.
That was one possible explanation that the elusive quarterback passed on an opportunity to run and instead tried to get the ball to a receiver who was covered. The result was an interception on Young’s final play in the Tennessee Titans’ preseason opener, a 20-18 loss at Seattle on Saturday.
“He was throwing the ball well, and he was completing passes,” Fisher said during a day-after press briefing Sunday. “At that point I don’t think he’d thrown an incomplete pass yet, so he probably figured he could fit it in.”
Young, in fact, had not thrown an incompletion. He was 4-for-4 on the opening drive of the contest, which resulted in a touchdown and a 7-0 Tennessee lead. He started the Titans’ second possession with another completion.
Then, on third-and-1 from the 27, he rolled left and his first significant mistake of the night became a lasting impression. Veteran backup Chris Simms and rookie Rusty Smith took all of the remaining snaps.
“(Young) got the ball in the end zone with the drive, and I thought he did well,” Fisher said. “I’d like to see him run for the first down, which he said he would if it were a regular season game.”
Actually, he had done exactly that a little more than six minutes earlier.
Tennessee converted its first third-down play of the night, which occurred on the opening drive, when Young ran for two yards on third-and-1 from the Seattle 48.
“We’ve talked about his legs; we’ve emphasized that during camp, and that (interception) was an opportunity,” Fisher said. “He probably wouldn’t take a hit. It looked like we had a flat defender already walled off; that would’ve been the only guy that would’ve gotten to him before he got out of bounds.
“But I thought he would’ve gotten out of bounds and got the first down.”
In spite of that decision not to step across the line and get out of bounds, Young’s performance was considered a step in the right direction particularly for a player with a career passer rating of 72.3 who has thrown more interceptions (39) than touchdowns (32).
In going 5-for-6 for 78 yards, he spread the ball around to two different wide receivers (Nate Washington twice, Justin Gage once), one tight end (Craig Stevens) and one running back (Ahmard Hall). Three of the five completions resulted in first downs and the other two went for nine and eight yards, respectively, on first-down snaps.
“We need to make some plays and make some things happen,” Young said following the game. “That was the first time with the offensive line as a whole group. I thought everybody did a great job of everybody being in the right place and reading the coverages and adjusting routes.
“…I did throw the ball away once when I should have walked the ball down the field two yards for the first down.”
• Fisher said the dislocated right ankle sustained by running back Stafon Johnson on the final play of the third quarter was not necessarily a season-ending injury.
“It’s hard to say,” Fisher said. “This could be eight to 12 weeks, we just don’t know.”
Johnson returned with the team Saturday night and underwent successful surgery on Sunday.
“There was a fracture involved, it was in his fibula,” Fisher said. “And then to accompany the dislocation, it is typically compounded by a high ankle sprain. Sometimes a deltoid ligament is involved and they have to reattach that, but they did it. They got him put all back together and it looked good.”
He said no other Titans’ were injured in the contest.
• Rookie running back LeGarrette Blount has been excused from workouts until Wednesday for personal reasons.