August 11, 2007
Nashville (AP) -- Anyone curious to see how Vince Young has improved since he was last seen in the Pro Bowl must wait a week. While the Washington Redskins sure didn't miss him, the Titans obviously did.
Young sat on the sidelines, benched for violating a team rule. Without him, the Tennessee Titans lost their preseason opener on Saturday night.
Marcus Mason scored from a yard out and Byron Westbrook recovered a fumble in the end zone in the final 1:14, helping the Redskins pull out a 14-6 victory over the Titans in the exhibition opener for both teams.
"I sure appreciate a victory," Washington coach Joe Gibbs said. "It's been hard for us to get one in preseason. I appreciate the guys hanging in there and fighting ... It's always good to win. I never want to lose that feeling. At the same time, I know we have a long ways to go."
Gibbs also got some good news about Clinton Portis, who sat out the game because of knee tendinitis. Portis was examined in Nashville by Dr. James Andrews, and Gibbs said they were told the Redskins are treating Portis properly with medicine to ease the swelling.
But Young was the big attraction, coming off his Offensive Rookie of the Year award and the big reason the Titans expect to pick up where they left off after an excellent finish that left them a game short of the playoffs.
Titans coach Jeff Fisher refused to say why he sat Young except that he owed it to the quarterback not to say. Asked by a TV reporter what happened, Young warned children not to break the rules, but he reportedly stayed at home instead of the team hotel.
"I made a decision earlier today to not put Vince in the ball game for violating a team rule. Period. End of story. He'll be back in the building Monday with his teammates, practicing. He's our starting quarterback," Fisher said.
That left Young forced to watch wearing a baseball cap, blue T-shirt and shorts while holding onto a white towel around his neck. He kept his hands busy by often gripping each end of that towel, swinging his arms back and forth or just clasping them behind his back as he fidgeted on his feet.
Young didn't speak with reporters after the game.
"It was a little misstep, nothing to worry about," Titans running back LenDale White said.
Not having to chase the man who set the rookie rushing record for quarterbacks with 552 yards last year was nice for the Redskins breaking in new middle linebacker London Fletcher.
"All we can do is take care of our business and compete against whoever they put out there," Redskins linebacker Marcus Washington said.
Tennessee struggled to move the ball with Kerry Collins starting in Young's place. Their only scoring drive of the first half came when Cortland Finnegan, trying to replace suspended Adam "Pacman" Jones at punt returner, took Derrick Frost's punt 37 yards.
Collins finished 10-of-17 for 79 yards for an offense that had only 38 yards rushing in the first half without Young's legs and 117 yards total offense.
Meanwhile, Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell understandably is in a hurry for left tackle Chris Samuels' healthy return in Washington.
The starter after taking over the final seven games last season, Campbell got to play with rookie free agent Stephon Heyer starting at left tackle with Samuels out with a knee injury. Todd Wade made his first start at left guard after being converted from tackle.
Campbell continued the Redskins' offensive struggles from last preseason when the first-team unit never got inside the opponent's 20 by getting only to the Titans 29. He finished 6-of-14 for 104 yards.
The Titans sacked Campbell twice in the first nine minutes.
"It's not how we want to play," Wade said.
Washington, a team that went winless last preseason and stumbled to a 5-11 season, left happy about finding a way to win despite giving up five sacks to the Titans.
"Winning is a habit," Washington said. "We want to start off the season with a good habit. We did it tonight. We got a win. It feels good. We're going to enjoy it."
Todd Collins drove the Redskins 75 yards in seven plays, capped by Mason's dive up the middle with 1:14 to go. Rookie center Leroy Harris fumbled a bad snap, and Westbrook chased the loose ball down in the end zone to punctuate the surprising victory.
Rob Bironas kicked a 41-yarder, and rookie John Vaughn added a 39-yarder for the Titans' only points.
The Associated Press News Service