Kerry Collins had a front-row seat as Vince Young navigated the learning curve — often unsuccessfully — of an NFL quarterback.
While it is clear that Young no longer will be with the Tennessee Titans, Collins believes there is still the chance the third overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft can be productive for some team.
“Really, I saw progress with him last year,” Collins said. “I saw him do things and play as well and throw the ball as well as he has since he’s been here. But all of the sudden some things are happening and it all goes to pot. I saw signs of him figuring it out so maybe there’s hope there.”
In nine appearances last season, Young set career-highs for passer rating (98.6), yards per attempt (8.0) and touchdown-to-interception ratio (10:3).
He also, however, walked out on then-coach Jeff Fisher and the team after having been pulled in a loss to the Washington Redskins, occasionally was late for meetings or missed them altogether, and created serious concerns about his professionalism with his offseason work habits and his approach to rehabbing injuries.
Following the 2010 season, the franchise announced it planned to cut ties with Young. The NFL lockout, which has been ongoing since March, has prevented any transactions so — officially — that move has not taken place.
“I’m pretty confident that’s still going to happen,” Collins said.
Collins, who shared the starting job with Young over the last five years, won’t be around either , though. He announced his retirement earlier this month.
The lockout made it impossible to talk with Titans coaches or team officials prior to his decision, and he has erred on the side of caution since, rather than expose the franchise to the risk of punishment for unauthorized contact.
Thus, Collins has no idea about what they might do once business resumes. He does have some thoughts, though, on what they could do.
“I’m not exactly sure who’s going to be a free agent or anything like that,” Collins said. “I think Carson Palmer would be a good fit. I know Carson. He’s a great guy. I think he has a lot of good football left in him.”
Palmer was the first overall pick by Cincinnati in 2003 and has played 97 games — all starts — for that team. He has stated publicly that he will retire if he’s not traded prior to the start of the 2011 season.
Collins also named Marc Bulger as a possibility. Bulger has 96 career starts but sat out all of 2010 with an injury.
“I think he’s a good quarterback,” Collins said. “He’s going to be out there and I think he could fit that role."
Of course, any veteran who joins the team will be asked to help groom Jake Locker, whom the Titans drafted eighth overall in April.
“You’re going to play for one year and then you’re going to be a backup,” Collins said.
A similar school of thought existed in 2006, when Collins was signed in the wake of Young being drafted. Several times in the years that followed, Collins gave way to Young, who never managed to hold the job.
“Some guys go through things early in their career — I certainly did,” Collins said. “You just hope that guys figure it out. I think the question is out there whether [Young] has.”
Yet from his perspective, the idea that Young could still be a productive player is not completely out of the question.