Once the shine of being in the Hall of Fame Game wears off for the Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills, the game will be exactly what it is — the first preseason game on each team’s schedule.
That likely will mean a lot more action for rookies and unknowns and a fairly quick exit for the starters on both teams.
While Titans Coach Jeff Fisher would not reveal exactly how long his first-teamers and starting quarterback Kerry Collins would play, to expect much action from them beyond a quarter or so is probably not likely.
“We’re going to approach it like our first preseason game,” Fisher said. “We’ll play everybody that’s capable of playing and some of the starters will play a little bit longer because of numbers. We’ll clearly be competitive throughout the game.”
Collins said his goal as the No. 1 quarterback in the preseason opener is simply to look sharp and probably retire to the sideline after a couple of series.
“The first preseason game, I’d like to get out there the first series and be crisp and sharp and get first downs and hopefully cap it off with a score,” Collins said. “I just want to be sharp and to execute and convert a couple of third downs and get off to a good start.
“Then hopefully, come out for a second series and hopefully do a little more of the same. I can’t anticipate being in there much more than that, but hopefully the first series or two will go well.”
While Collins and the starters might not see extensive action, it will be showtime for many of the Titans rookies, who are plenty excited about their first opportunity to play in an NFL game.
“It’s kind of surreal that it’s come this fast, but it’s here and you’ve got to be ready for it.
It’s still hitting me that my first game is Sunday,” said Cook, a third-round pick from South Carolina. “You dream about this day every since you were young.”
For some of the rookies, it will be their first NFL experience, period. Javon Ringer fits into that category.
“This will be my first NFL game experience. I’ve never been to one. I need to show them that I can produce and play on this level, that I can compete basically against the best,” said Ringer, who appears to have a slight early edge in the race for the No. 3 running back spot.
As for how much he expects to play, he said Thursday he hadn’t been told exactly how much, but expects it could be a decent amount.
“They really haven’t said too much about it, but from what I know, I know rookies play a lot in preseason games. That’s our time to really show what we can do,” Ringer said.
In many cases, rookies can sometimes be starry-eyed early on.
Consider that high-profile wide receiver Terrell Owens will be lining up opposite them on the Buffalo sideline. And as if that isn’t enough, Hall of Famers will grace the sidelines as well, making it an open book through the history of pro football.
It even has some of the Titans veterans a little eager to take the field in Canton.
“It’s cool, because it’s the Hall of Fame Game,” linebacker Keith Bulluck said. “We get to go out to Canton. I’ve never been to the Hall of Fame before, so I’m looking forward to playing in Canton, getting a tour of the Hall of Fame and putting those fresh [Oilers] throwback jerseys on.”
Cook, for one, says he will try to block things out as much as possible once the festivities give way to football.
“We’re just playing football. We’ve been doing it ever since we were little. You’ve just got to play. You’ve got to,” Cook said. “Everybody played in front of big crowds in college, and you had to ignore the crowd by just playing football.”
Titans vs. Bills
Hall of Fame Game
7 p.m. kickoff