Notebook: Titans Seek Faster Start Sunday vs. Colts

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Slow starts have become a problematic pattern for the Titans this season.

Tennessee has run 60 combined plays that have netted 230 yards and 10 total points in the first quarters of its six games. The Titans have fared better in the second quarters of their games: with 106 plays gaining 754 yards and 34 points.

It's no surprise that making improvements on the early flow of the game has been emphasized this week. Titans coaches and players have talked about the importance of getting a lead early against Indianapolis (0-7) Sunday to minimize the threat of Colts pass rushers and put pressure on developing quarterback Curtis Painter.

"That is one of our main focus points," receiver Nate Washington said. "We expect bigger things out of ourselves, our coaching staff and the players that are in our offense. We have to start faster and get that ball rolling."

The Titans (3-3) have had 13 first-quarter possessions and punted to end 10 of those. Tennessee ended the other three possessions with an interception against Baltimore, a touchdown at Cleveland and a field goal at Pittsburgh.

PREVENTING SACK FUMBLES: Titans coach Mike Munchak said the Titans are aware of the penchant that Indianapolis defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis have for rushing the passer and causing sack fumbles.

Freeney has 98.5 sacks during his 10-year career, and Mathis has 77.5 in his nine seasons. That ranks first and second in Colts franchise history. The tandem also ranks first and second in the NFL at forcing fumbles since 2002. Freeney has forced 43 fumbles and Mathis has forced 37.

Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck injured his right thumb last week against Houston. Hasselbeck was limited in practice Wednesday but practiced fully Thursday and Friday. Munchak said the 13-year quarterback will be listed as "probable" and his alertness will do as much at preventing sack fumbles as if Hasselbeck hadn't had problems with the thumb this week.

"This is a team that is so well known for it that he is aware of that," Munchak said. "Quarterbacks have to be aware when you play a team like this or they have a guy that can change a game around with that strip. I think Matt … understands the importance of ball security in a game like this. If they get a sack on you then just take the sack, we don't want the fumble. That's what they are trying to do, they are trying to get the ball out as much as they are trying to get the sack."

SCOTT MISSES PRACTICE: Guard Jake Scott missed Friday's practice with continuing problems from a neck burner he suffered during Thursday's practice. Munchak said Scott, who began his career with the Colts, was feeling much better on Friday but underwent a precautionary MRI and will be listed as "questionable" for Sunday's game.

Scott has started the past 110 games. If Scott is unable to play Sunday, the Titans will call upon second-year pro Fernando Velasco.

POST-BYE-WEEK BLUES: Teams are 14-10 before their bye weeks so far this season and 3-8 in the weeks following.

The Ravens (4-2) and Chiefs (3-3) won before and after their byes, and the Broncos (2-4) won after their bye week. The Browns (3-3), Cowboys (3-3), Dolphins (0-6), Rams (0-6), Cardinals (1-5) and Titans all lost before and after their bye weeks.

CENTURY MARK: The Titans will be playing their 100th regular season game at the facility now known as LP Field. Tennessee is 62-37, winning 62.6 percent of its home games since 1999. The wins are tied for seventh in the NFL in that span and the winning percentage is tied for eighth in the league.

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