Titans Understand Importance of Sunday's Game

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Titans had a blueprint and executed it.

Tennessee won at Jacksonville 30-3 on Oct. 18 by taking the lead quickly, establishing an early balance between the pass and run before shifting to rush attempts later in the game, limiting the Jaguars' running game and capitalizing on Jacksonville miscues on a Monday Night Football appearance.

 It was the most convincing win of the season for Tennessee, which is 1-4 since and 5-6 overall. Jacksonville rebounded to go 3-2 and is tied with Indianapolis for first in the AFC South at 6-5 with five games left to play.

Tennessee players said it will be important to put prior results in the past when the Titans and Jaguars reconvene Sunday at LP Field.

"You kind of have to put that game away because they're going to come out with better effort," guard Jake Scott said. "I'm sure they're not happy with their performance in that game. They're going to play hard and they're going to have a good game plan, so it's not going to come out the same way. It never does. We're going to have to be ready for their best effort and they've been playing pretty good football the past few weeks."

Jacksonville has been helped by the return of quarterback David Garrard, who was injured against Tennessee and missed the Jaguars' game against Kansas City the following week. Garrard is 81-for-121 for 1,018 yards passing with four interceptions in the past four games. The passing consistency has helped Maurice Jones-Drew and Jacksonville's other rushers, who have averaged 166.5 yards rushing in the past four games.

Titans coach Jeff Fisher said Garrard's mobility has been a key to the Jaguars' success.

"He's using his legs.  He ran and made a lot of plays off schedule the last couple of weeks, especially against the Giants," Fisher said. "He's staying alive and throwing with a great deal of accuracy. It looks like the receivers are helping him, and Marcedes (Lewis) is still playing well. Of course they've got the run game going, and anytime you run it like they can, you can make plays with the ball in the air."

Tennessee held Jacksonville's offense to 189 passing yards and 76 rushing yards and made three interceptions the last time. The Titans held Jones-Drew to 57 yards on 17 carries.

Linebacker Stephen Tulloch, who leads the Titans in tackles, said this will be a whole new ballgame.

"Every game is different," Tulloch said. "They want to play better, and we have to win the ball game. Any time you play an AFC South team, it's a very physical game. We know what's at stake."

Limiting Jones-Drew will again be a strategy for the Titans.

"You've got to stop Jones-Drew early," safety Michael Griffin said. "You don't want him to get going. When he gets going, he gets to feeling it, so you've got to stop the run. Something they've gotten back to is getting the ball in his hands."

Four straight losses sent the Titans from first in the division to third place (after Houston fell to 5-7 Thursday night) but they are only one game behind Jacksonville and Indianapolis, whom Tennessee hosts Dec. 9 and visits Jan. 2.

Griffin said Thursday the Titans feel like they missed some opportunities earlier this season to be higher in the standings but can win the division by winning their remaining games.

"We can still finish the season at 10-6," Griffin said. "That would be a lot more positive."

Defensive end Jason Babin, who leads the team with a career-high nine sacks, said the Titans need to take care of their opponents because the window for opportunity is closing.

"I don't think we need to depend on luck anymore with everybody losing," Babin said. "We've got to take control of our destiny and win the game."

Collins hopeful to return

The Titans have started three different quarterbacks in the past three games. Kerry Collins started Nov. 14 at Miami and injured his calf. Vince Young started Nov. 21 against Washington, suffered a season-ending thumb injury and was relieved by rookie Rusty Smith, who started last Sunday at Houston.

Collins has been trying to rehab his calf injury and hopes to start this Sunday against Jacksonville.

"Any time you come back from injury there's always that endurance question: Can that muscle that you injured hold up over the course of a game? So far, so good," Collins said. "If I'm able to go Sunday, it'll be a test to see if it can make it through. I've been working hard and I've tried everything I've had to do to get ready to play and make it through a whole game."

Fisher listed Collins as probable on the Titans injury report.

"Kerry was better (Friday), so we're encouraged," Fisher said. "We'll see how he warms up. He got plenty of reps, so we'll see how it feels (Sunday). It's different getting ready to warm up in practice than it is getting ready to play a game."

Griffin missed practice Friday with an illness but Fisher said he was confident that the four-year pro would be able to play Sunday.

Wide receiver Kenny Britt (full practice, questionable), defensive tackle Tony Brown (no practice, questionable), defensive tackle Jason Jones (full practice, questionable), defensive end David Ball (full practice, questionable), defensive end Jason Babin (full practice, probable), kicker Rob Bironas (full practice, probable), cornerbacks Ryan Mouton (no practice, questionable) and Alterraun Verner (full practice, questionable), defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks (no practice, doubtful) and linebacker David Thornton (full practice, probable) rounded out the rest of the injury report. 

Scott reaching milestone

Scott will start his 100th consecutive regular season game Sunday. The seven-year pro started the streak in 2005 when he played for Indianapolis. Scott started 55 games for the Colts and signed with Tennessee in 2008.

"It's been a lot of football. It's a nice milestone to hit," Scott said. "I don't know how many guys have done it, but I know it's something that's pretty hard to do and doesn't happen very often, so I'm kind of proud of that. It's something that I can say I achieved that a lot of people haven't."

Scott's streak ranks eighth among all current linemen's streaks and fourth among guards. Tltans left tackle Michael Roos is 10th among current linemen streaks with 91 consecutive starts.

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