On his very first day at the Titans' Nashville facility back in May, Vince Young was put to the test.
Offensive coordinator Norm Chow spent an hour with the first-round draft choice, giving him four basic concepts to consider. When head coach Jeff Fisher slipped into the back of the meeting room to observe, Chow sent his rookie quarterback up to the board.
"He said draw up the concept, draw your offense up with the route concepts, with this defense," Fisher said. "Go through the protection. Go through your reads. And Vince went through it as if he'd been here for months. And then he smiled and asked me if I had any questions."
Fisher relays the story with a smile of his own and an emphasis with his eyebrows. Vince Young, he says, is the real deal. Because of his extraordinary athletic ability -- and, not insignificantly, the precarious state of the offense led by starter Kerry Collins -- the Rose Bowl MVP was the first rookie quarterback thrust into the maelstrom that is the NFL regular season.
After going 3-for-4 in a single series against the Jets on opening day, Young played in five series in Sunday's game against San Diego. For the second week in a row, it was a combination of the good and the bad. Young completed 7 of 17 passes for 106 yards and ran six times for 24 yards. There was an 18-yard touchdown pass to Drew Bennett -- the Titans' only score -- but there was also a fumble.
"There's going to be mistakes," Fisher acknowledges. "You have to get past mistakes. You can't dwell on something you did wrong the series before. You have to move on. At the same time, you have to learn from them."
Fisher and the Titans are conflicted regarding Young's learning curve. Fisher said that easing Steve McNair into Tennessee's lineup gradually over time was the right way to go. Fisher references Daunte Culpepper, pointing out that he didn't start a single game as a rookie in Minnesota, then made the Pro Bowl in his sophomore year. Tom Brady and Carson Palmer, Fisher noted, were not thrown immediately into the fray.
|The Learning Curve|
• Garber: QB learning curve
The volume of information for a rookie QB to learn can be staggering. Greg Garber visited with three first-round rookies to explore the learning curve for rookie QBs.
• Learning curve: Jay Cutler
The comparisons to John Elway started early for Jay Cutler in Denver. But the rookie QB knows he still has a lot to learn.
• Learning curve: Matt Leinart
Matt Leinart was a star on the big stage at USC. Now he's just a rookie trying to learn the playbook in Arizona.
• Learning curve: Vince Young
The Titans have already given Vince Young some game action. The question now is will they continue to ease him in and let him learn or decide that he needs to play now?
Young, according to Fisher, has been an enthusiastic student despite all the attention.
"I'm sure when you're done talking to me, you're going to talk to Vince," Fisher said. "Now this happens every single day. Vince needs to keep those things in perspective, first and foremost. [But] he's way ahead of the learning curve, which is very pleasing for us."
If Young seems polished, there's a good reason. In the privacy of his nearby home, he positions himself in front of a mirror:
"Spring to Sprout Right, Spring to Sprout Right," he will call out, and then run through entire sections of the playbook.
"Back in college when I was learning that terminology, it was tongue-twisting a little bit," said the soft-spoken Young. "So I got the scripts and took them home with me and said it in the mirror like I'm talking in the huddle. That helps me out a whole lot, so I've done that here, and the words are coming out, flowing better right now."
Said Fisher, "He's picking things up, and that's a credit to him because he's spent the time. He wants to stay ahead. He wants to stay a day ahead of installation. He wants to know what kind of things he's going to be responsible for in games.
"When you have that kind of dedication, and then you add the athletic ability, success is right around the corner."
If Collins and the offense continue to underachieve, that corner could be turned in a matter of weeks.
"The biggest thing I keep hearing is that a rookie never came in and been successful," Young said. "So I'm not going to accept that. I'm going to try and go out and be successful at my craft."
Consider yourself warned.
Greg Garber is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
(Photos: 1. AP Photo/Mark Humphrey; 2. Paul Spinelli/Getty Images; 3. AP Photo/Mark Humphrey; 4. Albert Dickson/Icon SMI; 5. Doug Pensinger/Getty Images; 6. Marvin Gentry/US Presswire)