- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 12, 2006

Vince Young holds a lowly 42.3 passer rating. He’s lost both of his starts as quarterback of the Tennessee Titans.

The rookie who led Texas to the national championship last year, however, has been far from awed by his introduction to pro football.

“We keep hearing about the hype, about the NFL,” said Young, whose team faces the Redskins on Sunday at FedEx Field. “To me, it’s just guys out there working a little bit harder [than they did in college] because they’ve got to pay bills.”

Titans coach Jeff Fisher kept Young’s longtime mentor, Steve McNair, on the bench for two years after picking him first in the 1995 draft. But Billy Volek, something of a regular at quarterback for the Titans last season, pouted his way out of town after veteran starter Kerry Collins was signed this summer. When Collins got off to a miserable start, Young got the job.

“Vince was way ahead of the curve through the OTAs, the offseason program and throughout camp,” Fisher said. “If you’ve got a situation where you’ve got a solid, veteran quarterback who’s going to give you a chance to win, it makes sense to [slowly] bring along a quarterback of Vince’s stature. We just didn’t have that luxury.”

Young reminds Redskins assistant head coach Gregg Williams of McNair, now the quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens. McNair became the Titans’ starter in 1997, the same season Williams became the team’s defensive coordinator.

“There are quite a [few] similarities,” Williams said. “Vince is an unbelievable athlete. I was very impressed with the progress he made from the Cowboys game to the Colts game. They were one or two plays away from being in total charge of that game.”

Springs could play

Williams said cornerback Shawn Springs, who took some practice work for the second straight day, could play against the Titans on Sunday.

Springs underwent abdominal surgery on Aug. 15 and badly strained his right groin in his return to practice on Sept. 20.

“It was nice to see Shawn make a nice interception today,” Williams said. “It was kind of a catalyst of a waterfall of interceptions that happened today. Shawn has progressed very well this week.”

The Titans provide an ideal opponent for a return by Springs, considering the inexperience of Young, injuries to receivers Drew Bennett and David Givens and that the Redskins next week face the fearsome passing attack of the Indianapolis Colts.

Hurt lines

Both of the Redskins’ lines are battered.

Left guard Derrick Dockery was added to the injury list and listed as probable for the Titans game after leaving practice early because of an ailing hip flexor. Left tackle Chris Samuels practiced with a brace on his surgically repaired right knee.

Joe Salave’a (calf) is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game, and fellow defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin (hip) and defensive end Phillip Daniels (back) are considered probable. None of them practiced yesterday, but Griffin and Daniels are supposed to return today.

Strong-side linebacker Marcus Washington (hip) is listed as probable, as are backup receiver David Patten (thigh) and punter Derrick Frost (calf), who was hurt on the opening kickoff against the Giants. Only Frost practiced yesterday.

Expect the unexpected

Williams called Fisher “the king of trick plays,” recalling that his mentor once called for three consecutive onside kicks.

Running back Clinton Portis, meanwhile, said the Titans, who rank last in run defense, are “probably one of the most dangerous teams in the league.”

“They can go for it on fourth down, onside kick … trick plays, blitz all game. What do they have to lose?” Portis said. “Last week, the Giants were one of the worst against the pass, and they found a way to stop us. At some point, every team has to turn it around. Hopefully, after this week, they’re still the worst in the league.”

The Redskins are 2-0 when Portis produces more than 77 yards of offense, 0-3 when he manages less or is hurt.

“When I have a big game, it carries the team,” said Portis, who averaged 152 yards in the Redskins’ victories. “When I don’t, we lose. That puts pressure on me to try to perform. I can’t do anything but step up to that challenge.”

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