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Monday, August 23, 2010
Observation deck: Cardinals-Titans

By Paul Kuharsky

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Midway through the exhibition schedule (the NFL just loves that word), the Titans got the AFC South’s first win, beating the Arizona Cardinals 24-10 on Monday.

Which means nothing, of course.

But some of this might.

Vince Young
Vince Young completed 9 of 13 passes for 128 yards and also ran once for 10 yards on Monday.
Vince Young was efficient, but can still stand some polish: His big completion to a wide open Craig Stevens came off his back foot. He also had a pump-fake fumble (though he recovered it and ran for a first down) and a bad, low throw for Nate Washington into double coverage at the goal line that fell incomplete. Those all amount to the sort of things he needs to clean up. When things go well for him, he not only survives such circumstances but turns them into positive plays as he did on the first two of those three plays against the Cardinals.

Back to form?: I thought veteran safety Chris Hope played fast. He made a quick stick on tight end Stephen Spach after a short reception on a third-and-long, and on a blitz from the left side he got in on a tackle of Tim Hightower, who was running to the other side.

Running back pecking order: Javon Ringer was the first backup in on offense, playing with the first team. He’s earning increased faith from his coaches and it seems as if he’s the guy who will take a few snaps off Chris Johnson’s plate. He can run inside, gain a tough yard and function as a pass outlet. Don’t rush to imagine those carries going to LeGarrette Blount, especially since Samkon Gado was ahead of Blount as the third back and ran for two TDs.

Disruptive forces: Jason Babin continues to impress me with his fast get off and his ability to get into the backfield. Against the Cardinals he was the first to get into the backfield on a couple run plays. Jason Jones, meanwhile, beat starting right guard Reggie Wells for back-to-back knockdowns of Derek Anderson.

Still not sold: Michael Griffin, who tackled poorly a year ago, whiffed on LaRod Stephens-Howling on a first-half kick return leaving Myron Rolle to clean things up after a bigger gain. Griffin has got to do better in such circumstances.

Compounding a mistake: Kenny Britt got a hand on the pass to the right sideline from Kerry Collins and could have caught it. Ticked at himself that he didn’t, he kicked the ball after it fell incomplete, drawing a delay of game penalty. I think that sort of thing is helping slow his path into the starting lineup.

Head of the line: Offensive line depth is a big question. Mike Otto and Fernando Velasco were the first two subs, replacing left tackle Michael Roos and right guard Jake Scott, respectively. Zero regular season starts between the two primary backups isn’t a huge confidence boon for an offense.

Nondescript: Damian Williams didn’t distinguish himself with first-half chances in the kicking game. But the rookie return man didn’t mess up either, and considering how the Titans are starting from zero at the spots after last year, that’s not nothing. Marc Mariani’s 60-yard kickoff return midway through the fourth quarter was great, but came against far lesser players.