Come Sunday in Houston, there is the possibility that three-fourths of the Tennessee Titans primary backfield could be different than a week ago.
The biggest question remains whether or not quarterback Vince Young, who sat out of practice for a second consecutive day on Thursday, will be able to play against the Texans.
But the Titans also practiced again Thursday without leading rusher Chris Brown (ankle) and fullback Ahmard Hall (concussion), leaving only LenDale White a sure thing among the main cogs in the Tennessee backfield.
Young played catch for a few minutes with trainer Geoff Kaplan, but was a spectator once offensive and team drills ensued on Thursday.
“He threw the ball a little bit today,” Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. “He didn’t run around, didn’t test the leg out, but he threw the ball and he is improving. The treatment procedures and everything is helping out. We’ll see how he is tomorrow. There is a chance he could practice tomorrow; we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Though Fisher said Young and Brown had a chance to practice Friday, it looks more like both will be game-time decisions on Sunday. The question, especially in the case of a second-year quarterback in Young, will be this: How prepared can he be with little to no practice time this week?
“Vince is paying close attention to what we’re doing and he is familiar with this team [Houston],” Fisher said. “He played them twice last year. We haven’t ruled out that possibility.”
In the meantime, the Titans offense continues to ready for the Texans with or without Young and his backfield mates.
“It’s just going to be a little different, but we’re just going to have to rely on some other playmakers to step up _ Quinton [Ganther], Chris Henry, myself, Kerry Collins,” White said. “They’re going to expect these people to step up, and they’re looking forward to their opportunity. I know everybody is going to step up and make some plays.”
What the Titans call on offense won’t change, but the dynamic might in making the switch from the scrambling Young to a dropback passer in Collins.
“Nothing changes at all,” White said. “Vince sometimes takes things into his hands because he understands, ‘I’ve got to pull it [down] and go.’ Kerry probably will drop back in the pocket and throw it out of bounds or at our legs [if nothing’s there]. Kerry is smart. We’ve got a lot of confidence in Kerry. He’s not going to put us in a position to lose any football games.”
Collins’ presence might even serve to loosen the box for the run game a bit, as teams will no longer need a spy to prevent Young’s scrambling.
“I saw a lot more two high safeties and a lot more two deep safeties,” he said of Tampa Bay’s defense when he came off the bench last Sunday. “People are a lot more afraid to do that with Vince because if he breaks through the line, there’s nobody left. They’re not quite as worried about my running capabilities, to say the least.”
Center Kevin Mawae said the Titans can use a break in establishing the run and may have to make plays throwing the football to make it happen.
“It’s kind of hard to run the ball when you’ve got eight guys in the box and a ninth guy dropping in,” Mawae said. “You don’t have a whole lot of room to move around. Whether that’s the case or not, we’ve just got to go out there and be ready to play with what fronts they give us and if they decide to crowd to the box, we’ve got to figure out ways to beat it.”
Collins says getting all the first-team reps should help him if his number is called Sunday.
“If I can go through the week and get all the reps, if I’m going to play on Sunday, it’ll be invaluable for me to be that involved in the game plan. Certainly it will help me on Sunday,” Collins said.
White professed confidence in Collins and the others who might have to step in Sunday against the Texans.
“Kerry is a proven veteran in this league. He’s been there, done that. We understand he’s going to get the job done,” White said.
INJURY UPDATE: Defensive end Antwan Odom did limited work in practice Thursday as he is resting a thigh injury that has been bothering him for two-and-a-half weeks, according to Fisher. Fisher indicated Odom could practice fully on Friday.
As for Hall, he did some running on the side then watched practice for a second straight day.
Both guard Benji Olson and defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth practiced Thursday after getting Wednesday off.