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Thursday, September 3, 2009
Titans find much to like in win over Packers

By Paul Kuharsky
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Titans finished their five-game preseason with a lot of things to feel good about in a 27-13 win over the Packers.

Return man Mark Jones fumbled last week on a kickoff, and his first action of the preseason didn’t instill a lot of confidence. This time he was confident, assertive, effective and fast, opening with a 22-yard punt return and a 44-yard kickoff return.

Did he come into the night thinking his roster spot was in jeopardy?

“After last week, yes,” he said. “I know I didn’t want to put that on tape and tonight I got to come in and show these guys I can come in and be their returner, know that I can make the decisions. I’m feeling pleased with my performance and the guys did a great job blocking.”

He said he’s now not expecting bad news Saturday.

Jones didn’t play any receiver against the Packers. He said he knows the Titans were evaluating a lot of other receivers and what his primary job was to be, so he wasn’t at all upset. But ultimately he knows he needs to show he can help there when needed.

“Most teams have somebody who can also play a position instead of just returning,” he said. “I didn’t get that many opportunities this week in practice but I was ready if my number was called.”

Backup quarterback Vince Young looked good again, making decisive throws and decisions about when to run. He got to work with the first team offense into the second quarter when the Packers pulled their front-line defense quickly and he took it too them like the Titans would expect.

He was seven of 12 for 85 yards with a TD for a 108.0 passer rating and he ran five times for 38 yards and another TD while absorbing two sacks.

“That’s just getting comfortable, man, growing up,” he said when I asked about his pass or run selections. “I think as a quarterback, you can’t just go out there and go right off the top especially when it’s a new offense and last year it was a new offense for me, I was kind of learning on the run.

“Now I’ve had some time to sit back and learn the offense and when you learn the offense you can showcase your talent more just reading the defense and things like that. I take my hat off to the offensive coordinator. Sitting out last year and paying attention to Kerry Collins, the different things that he was doing and how our offense functioned it helped me out a whole lot.”

The Titans have to be feeling as good about him as they have in a while.

Rookie receiver Dominique Edison caught two touchdown passes, an eight-yarder over his shoulder in the back left of the end zone from Young and a 31-yarder from Patrick Ramsey on which he stayed in front of a defender at the pylon as he went to the ground. He was targeted six times, and had five catches for 90 yards.

I thought he’d won his roster spot before this game, but he surely tightened his hold with his continuing ability to pull balls in. Counting every situation, I’d guess he had between 500 and 1,000 balls thrown his way from the start of camp through this game. How many has he dropped?

“I don’t know, four or five maybe, a few,” he said. “I don’t drop the ball very often but I have dropped it a few times during camp.”

Second-year defensive end William Hayes wasn’t going against the best Packers, but his defensive stat line still stood out: Five tackles including one for a loss, 1.5 sacks and four of the game’s nine quarterback hits.

He was gone by the time I got to his locker, so I asked Jevon Kearse about him.

“He’s showing the word what he can do,” Kearse said. “It doesn’t make a difference who it was against. He told me today he was going to work some things that he’d been working on, and [1.5] sacks out of the deal is not too bad. He’s definitely going to be one of our big play-makers on the team. That’s his nickname, ‘Big Play’ Hayes. He just needs an opportunity to get out there and he can do it.”

Two other things worth a mention: