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Titans Rookies Anxious for Season Opener

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- As the hours wind down until Tennessee kicks off its season at home against Oakland, Titans rookies say they are ready to make their NFL debut.

Defensive lineman Derrick Morgan plans to rest, linebacker Rennie Curran will continue studying the playbook and defensive back Alterraun Verner will prepare to play against a team he formerly watched on television to appease his college roommate.

Morgan, the Titans' No. 1 Draft pick out of Georgia Tech, said he planned to get "a lot of rest" between the Titans' indoor practice Friday and noon Sunday.

"Coach told us to take it easy and be off our legs," Morgan said. "I feel pretty good, pretty confident. I know my assignments, so I'm just ready to go out and play."

Curran, a third-round pick out of Georgia, said playing in the SEC prepared him for big games, but he wants to maintain focus and manage his excitement.

"I'm going to make sure I'm in my playbook non-stop from the time I leave here to the time that we get off the bus to go into the stadium," Curran said. "I'm going to make sure that I know every single detail. I don't know what's going to happen in the game and when I'll be called, but I'm preparing as if I'm a starter."

Curran was listed second on the depth chart at outside linebacker Friday behind fellow Georgia alum and nine-year veteran Will Witherspoon. The Titans excused Witherspoon from practice this week due to the tragic death of Witherspoon's mother.

Titans coach Jeff Fisher said Witherspoon taking care of his family was more important than football but added that Witherspoon has expressed interest in playing this week. Fisher said Titans founder and owner K.S. "Bud" Adams Jr. "has graciously allowed us to use his plane" to pick up Witherspoon Saturday.

Fourth-year linebacker Stephen Tulloch has communicated with Witherspoon this week to let him know the team supports him.

"He's a strong guy, and I expect him to bounce back from it, but whenever you lose a parent, it's always hard," Tulloch said. "I haven't lost one yet, but I can imagine what he's dealing with. I've been praying a lot for his family. All you can ask for is support from your teammates."

Tulloch said he will offer some advice to the rookies between Friday's practice and Sunday's kickoff but said the speed of the game will be faster than the rookies have countered.

"Unless you're actually in a game, you don't have that experience," Tulloch said. "The guys will be ready. We'll make sure they're geared up."

Curran said he will be excited by the opportunity to line up next to Tulloch but he doesn't want to be over-anxious.

"I've got to control my emotions, relax, and remember that I've been preparing and remember what I was taught," Curran said. "We're getting to that point where it becomes a reality instead of a dream."

Verner, a native of Southern California and fourth-round selection, said his college roommate at UCLA was a big Raiders fan, so he watched them on television "by default." Verner was listed second at a cornerback slot on Friday's depth chart, and he's been competing with second-year cornerback Jason McCourty for reps.

"(The debut is) definitely going to be crazy," Verner said. "It will set in when we get to the hotel and start game-planning. I'm not use to playing early, so it will be great to get an early start on Sunday. I know I'm just going to be thrilled and excited and nervous and all that. Any way, shape or form, I'm just ready to get this regular season started and help this team out so we can get to the Super Bowl."

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