Collins, Washington Connecting Early, Often in Camp

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. –** It was only a year ago that Kerry Collins entered the season as a backup to Vince Young. A lot has happened in a year, and now the 15-year veteran finds himself in the driver's seat, ready to lead a team that is considered one of the AFC's favorites in 2009.

"I'm excited to be back with the guys and I'm looking forward to having a good training camp and getting the basis for what we want to do this season," said Collins, who played a key role in Tennessee's 10-0 start and 13-3 finish last season.

Collins begins this season knowing he has the full confidence and support of his teammates. Other starters have been showering praise on Collins' leadership abilities, including new wide receiver Nate Washington.

 "It's good playing with a confident quarterback like that with that first group," said Washington, who signed as an unrestricted free agent from the Pittsburgh Steelers. "No matter what happens, we're going to keep working and keep getting better. In Kerry we have a great leader. He's been doing a good job of leading this offense."

Last year's performance, in which Collins ultimately made his way to the Pro Bowl, gave the grizzly quarterback a new lease on his NFL life, and it earned him a lucrative two-year contract with the Titans.

With the certainty of his role as a starter, Collins has put in extra work this summer, and head coach Jeff Fisher said Collins is well on his way to being even more effective than he was last season. Fisher knows he has a sure-handed quarterback at the helm of his offense.

"He's been here everyday, on the non-OTA days and the off-weeks he's here working with the receivers," Fisher said. "Not that he didn't have a great understanding of what we're doing, but now he has an even better understanding. He and Mike Heimerdinger are on the same page and he's making the throws that he needs to make. He's going to expect more of the guys around him now."

Collins will certainly be able to expect more of his teammates on offense this season, as the Titans have seemingly upgraded in many different positions on the field. In addition to veteran Justin Gage, Collins now has several new options to throw to, including Washington, rookie tight end Jared Cook and rookie wide receiver and first round pick Kenny Britt, among others. He also has up and comers like Lavelle Hawkins and Chris Davis with another year of experience under the belts.

"I am excited to get into a game type situation with those guys," Collins said of his new targets. "They have a lot of talent and can make big plays. They've got that playmaking ability and I think we all want to see what they have on the field."

The acquisition of Washington was one of the most important moves of the summer for the Titans. His relationship with Collins will be vitally important for this season's success. Washington seems to be working well with Collins early on, hooking up on several long passes during the first few days of training camp.

"Kerry is a great guy, both on and off the field," Washington said. "In terms of field work, when I'm wrong he'll come up to me and talk to me and tell me when I'm wrong. And when I'm right he doesn't hesitate to tap me on the back and tell me good job."

It's a relationship that's bound to blossom as the season goes on.

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