NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The band is back together.
Now, the ambition of the Titans' offense is playing longer than three downs at a time.
The limitations on Kenny Britt have been lifted, Nate Washington is feeling better, and Jake Locker is benefitting from another week as the Titans' starting quarterback. All of those factors should help as the Titans (0-2) host the Detroit Lions (1-1) Sunday at LP Field.
"I think everybody has been getting their body back a little bit," Washington said. "It's been kind of a strenuous month for us, but here we are with another opportunity to get better on Sunday and put some better things together."
Tennessee is trying to rebound from a loss in San Diego in which it converted one of nine third downs (on a 20-yard run by Locker).
Britt was playing in his first game since tearing his ACL and MCL in 2011, and Washington was hampered by a leg injury he suffered in Week 1 against New England. Britt and Washington were each targeted twice against the Chargers and combined for three receptions for 25 yards.
Washington ranked second in the NFL with 29 catches for 358 yards on third downs in 2011, and the fact he wasn't 100 percent didn't help Tennessee stay on the field. The Titans possessed the ball for less than 17 minutes.
"It was really tough," Washington said. "I made sure I did what I could. It was tough, but at the same time, here comes another week, so we just have to put that one behind us and move forward."
Britt played 19 snaps against the Chargers. Offensive coordinator Chris Palmer said Britt continued to make progress, and the 34 plays he had in Wednesday's practice "will definitely help" that process.
"It just feels good to get everybody out there, especially receivers, to get going on what we're going to have this year," Britt said Wednesday after fully participating in practice.
Without the deep threats that Britt and Washington provide Tennessee's offense, San Diego's defense constricted the Titans' options and held them to 40 offensive plays. The Chargers also built an early lead, which reduced the opportunities the Titans had to run the football. Chris Johnson had eight attempts that gained 17 yards, and Locker gained 21 yards on two scrambles.
Palmer said he's encouraged by some of what the Titans have shown in two games so far and said Titans coaches are pinpointing the plays that fit each player the best.
"We're still building and getting down how many times Jake and any of the guys work together," Palmer said. "There's signs we're going to get better. Even as poorly as we played in the San Diego game, there are plays there that when we executed them properly we got good chunks. From a coaching standpoint, you're encouraged."
Locker connected with receiver Damian Williams four times for 45 yards, tight end Jared Cook three times for 23 yards and Kendall Wright two times for 24 yards that included a 15-yard TD pass, but Tennessee's offense didn't have a pass go for more than 20 yards until the final play of the game: a 46-yard catch-and-run by Craig Stevens.
"We've been kind of working on getting our chemistry down and getting the run game going and trying out some different looks offensively so we're going to see what it's about Sunday when we line up against Detroit," Cook said.
Titans coach Mike Munchak said the offense needs to earn more snaps, and the defense must be stingier. San Diego had 71 offensive plays, including 39 rush attempts, and converted 10 of 19 third downs.
Cook has the third-most receiving yards (846) by a tight end in the AFC since 2011. He said becoming a more fluid offense will require better execution on first, second and third downs.
"We can't have our defense out on the field the whole game," Cook said. "We've got to stay out there and make some plays. Once you start converting on third downs and stop getting into third-and-longs so much, that's when you get in the red zone and points come, and that's what where going to need for this offense to start generating a little bit better."