Javon Ringer needs to be ready. He does not need reps.
That’s how coach Jeff Fisher summed up things regarding the Tennessee Titans’ backup running back Monday, the day after Ringer ran for 33 yards on five carries and his first career touchdown in the 38-13 season-opening victory over Oakland.
“He’s got to be up and ready throughout the ballgame to go out there and play the running back position for us at any time,” Fisher said. “It’s a unique role for him, and I thought he handled it well. He stayed fresh, he stayed warm, he stayed loose, he was into each call. And obviously his touchdown run speaks for itself. Obviously he was prepared.”
Ringer’s first carry came roughly three and a half minutes into the second quarter. The next was nearly eight minutes later when he broke free for a 15-yard touchdown.
His final three attempts all came on the Titans’ final possession. The last of those was for 12 yards on third-and-6 and allowed the offense to run out the remaining time with kneel-downs.
Chris Johnson (27 carries, 142 yards, two touchdowns) was the only other running back to carry the ball.
Fisher said that the plan is to go to Ringer only when coaches feel Johnson needs a break, which apparently was not the case throughout the first 11-plus minutes of the fourth quarter even though the Titans seemingly had things well in hand.
“What you do when sub in games where you’re ahead – the intention is not to keep someone from getting hurt, the intention is to get backup playing reps and opportunities,” Fisher said. “I don’t feel like Javon needs that. He doesn’t need to prove anything to us.
“When you’re very fortunate to get ahead like we did – these things are few and far between in the National Football League because the games are usually so close – when you do take advantage of the sub it’s to get a younger player reps. It’s not to take somebody out to keep him from getting hurt.”
• Top of the heap: With only the two Monday night games remaining in Week 1, Vince Young was the top-rated passer in the NFL with a rating of 142.8. His completion percentage (76.5) was best in the AFC and second only to Seattle’s Matt Hasselbeck (78.3).
• Speaking of Young: Fisher had little to say when asked about the fact that Young clearly was in discomfort at times throughout the second half.
The coach conceded his quarterback banged his throwing hand on a helmet but dismissed it as any sort of issue.
“He’s fine,” Fisher said. “… The trainers looked at it.”
• Stiffer test: The offense figures to get a stiffer test this week when it goes against Pittsburgh defense.
In a game that went to overtime, the Steelers limited Atlanta to 295 yards of total offense.
“It’s not going to be an easy task for us,” Fisher said. “You look at the potential weapons and the people Atlanta has on offense – they will probably be (in the) top five in total offense this year, and they didn’t score a lot of points (Sunday).”
Tennessee had 320 yards in its season-opening loss at Pittsburgh last season.