Young returns to practice but Titans sticking with Collins
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Start the clock on the Tennessee Titans' quarterback controversy.
On Wednesday, Vince Young practiced for the first time since spraining his left knee Sept. 7 and sparking concern after police were called to help search for him. He was limited, but took a few snaps with both the scout team and the first-team offense.
Young didn't talk to reporters and hasn't since Sept. 11 when he explained his mother had overreacted to him taking off without his cell phone. That day he also said he expected he would return as starter once healthy.
Veteran Kerry Collins did speak and said he thought Young was excited to be back on the field.
"I think guys were happy to see him out there. He's going to be a part of what we do from here on out. I see no reason why he can't be a positive force on the offense," Collins said.
Young is the man the Titans used the No. 3 pick overall in the 2006 draft and turned the offense over to in his fourth game as a rookie.
But Collins now is the Titans' starting quarterback, a job coach Jeff Fisher has said the veteran will keep as long as they keep winning. These Titans are enjoying the best start ever in franchise history at 4-0 and among only three remaining undefeated teams in the NFL.
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The only decisions that will be made before kickoff Sunday at Baltimore (2-1) is whether Young dresses for the first time since his injury and whether he remains as the No. 3 quarterback behind Collins and Chris Simms or backs up Collins. Fisher said they will pick up Young's work each day before he makes his decision.
"I need to see him continue through the week and progress physically. He's into the game plan. That's not a concern of mine," Fisher said.
Asked about Young's mental and emotional status, Fisher said the quarterback has been great.
But if Collins keeps playing well, the Titans face a decision at some point of what to do at the position.
Young has a deal that could take him through the 2011 season. Collins's contract paying him $1.75 million is up after this season.
The 35-year-old quarterback has played almost mistake-free with only one interception and one sack in three starts. He has a passer rating of 81.3 that is higher than in either of Young's first two seasons, and the passing offense is ranked 23rd in the NFL averaging 168.5 yards per game.
Baltimore coach John Harbaugh sees Collins playing at a high level and thinks he's better than a few years ago when playing for the New York Giants.
"He plays around his talent really well. He makes all the throws he needs to make, he's big, he's poised in the pocket. Just really playing well," Harbaugh said.
The Titans had discussed an extension with Collins during training camp but didn't reach a deal. On Wednesday, Collins told The Tennessean and The Nashville City Paper that he doesn't think he can be a backup again now that he is starting and playing so well, but he wants to wait until the season's over to make a decision.
Collins said Young has been observing and asking questions about football.
"I think he's been respectful of the fact I'm trying to get ready to play. He's here and he's been here, and I think he's trying to take advantage of the time to learn and maybe see some things that might help his game," Collins said.
Winning has pushed away any problems so far, and teammates have said they support the quarterback under center.
"I'm glad it's been smooth," Collins said. "I feel like I have the support of the guys obviously is very important for me. But you know the fact we're able to keep on winning I think is a sign that hopefully they believe in me on Sundays."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press