NFL Nation: HOF game 09

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

CANTON, Ohio -- What a rush it must have been for Reggie Corner, bolting up the sideline into the end zone in his Buffalo Bills uniform after intercepting a pass in the stadium where he played high school football.

 
  Jason Miller/US Presswire
  Buffalo Bills cornerback Reggie Corner intercepted a pass from Titans rookie quarterback Alex Mortensen, son of ESPN's Chris, for a touchdown.
Corner is a graduate of Canton McKinley High, which plays its games at Fawcett Stadium next to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, where the Bills and Titans kicked off the preseason Sunday night. He had dozens of family and friends in attendance. They watched him run it in for a touchdown.

Now Corner's wondering if it might come back to haunt him.

The quarterback Corner intercepted is Titans rookie Alex Mortensen -- of the ESPN Mortensens.

That's right. His father is Chris Mortensen, who was watching from the press box.

"Wow. Hopefully, he don't bad-talk me," Corner said with sheepish grin when informed who he victimized in the fourth quarter.

The play would turn out to be Alex Mortensen's last.

The undrafted free agent from Arkansas relieved third-stringer Patrick Ramsey. Mortensen completed his first NFL pass, a 10-yard gain to running back Rodney Ferguson for a first down.

His next pass sailed past tight end Craig Stevens and straight to Corner. Ramsey went back into the game on the next possession.

"The quarterback's a good quarterback," Corner said. "He showed poise for the most part. It's preseason. Everybody makes mistakes."

But will Corner be monitoring Chris Mortensen on ESPN in the coming days?

"I'm pretty sure I'll hear about it if something goes sideways," Corner joked.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

CANTON, Ohio -- The Buffalo Bills opened their preseason schedule Sunday night with a 21-18 loss to the Tennessee Titans in the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Game.

Here are five Bills observations from Fawcett Stadium:

 
  Matthew Emmons/US Presswire
  Bills receiver Terrell Owens got involved early in Buffalo's Hall of Fame game loss to Tennessee.
1. If you had to guess which team opened camp one week ago and which opened two weeks ago ...

The Titans appeared to be the much sharper squad when their first- and second-teamers were on the field. The Bills opened training camp on July 25, making them the first in the NFL to break out the air horn, at least a week before 13 other clubs. The Titans got started on July 31.

Bills quarterback Trent Edwards had only one series and concluded it with an interception at the Titans' 7-yard line.

Tennessee seemed to come up with the big play when it needed one against Buffalo's top players. On the game's first drive, Titans coach Jeff Fisher called for a fake punt that rookie A.J. Trapasso executed exceptionally, hiding the ball behind his back as he swung his leg and then dashing up the left sideline for a 40-yard touchdown.

Titans quarterback Kerry Collins was 7 of 10 for 82 yards. Collins picked on second-year right cornerback Leodis McKelvin for 19 yards to convert a third-and-15 situation on an eventual touchdown drive.

"The third-and-15 was a critical down in that series," Bills coach Dick Jauron said. "We can't let people off in that. The percentages are highly in our favor, and we just gave up a first down."

Early in the second quarter, the Bills were denied on third and fourth down from the Titans' 5-yard line. The Bills needed 2 yards for the first down on each snap.

"We've got to convert that and thought we had a chance to," Jauron said.

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

Some quick hits on the Titans in the wake of their preseason opener, a 21-18 win over Buffalo in the Hall of Fame Game:

  • In our first real glimpse, veteran receiver Nate Washington appeared to add just what the Titans were looking for when they signed him away from Pittsburgh -- a more dynamic pass catcher.
  • If you don't think quarterback Patrick Ramsey looked better than Vince Young, particularly in the command department, you weren't watching the same game I was.
  • It looked to me as if rookie running back Javon Ringer was better than the competition he was on the field against. He may not have Chris Henry's measurables, but he's just more of a football player. In four more preseason chances, he's got to get some carries with at least the second string.
  • The deep defensive line is going to have to come in waves and stay fresh, but if the group stays healthy, it has the horses. NBC did a nice job spotlighting second-round defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks in the second half, showing us his combination of strength and speed.
  • I thought rookie linebacker Gerald McRath showed up a lot on special teams.
  • Is it better as a quarterback to come in, complete a pass, throw a pick six and get replaced ... or not to play? I'm guessing fourth-stringer Alex Mortensen, and his dad, ESPN's Chris Mortensen, would both choose the first scenario, but I'm sure it felt lousy Saturday night. Ramsey returned to finish things after the interception return by the Bills pulled them within five points.
  • Veteran safety Donnie Nickey has absolutely no argument about the flag he drew for the head shot he delivered to Jonathan Stupar late in the fourth quarter. That could make the officials tape as an example of what they are trying to prevent.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

As far as Twitter talk, Alge Crumpler's size quickly overtook A.J. Trapasso's marvelous fake punt touchdown run as the biggest Titans' topic of the first half of the Hall of Fame Game.

In his first season with the Titans, Crumpler brought the leadership the team was hoping for. He also willingly became more of a blocker than he ever was in Atlanta -- and that's what the Titans found they needed from him.

I discussed that, and his weight -- which was clearly up during OTAs - with him back in May.

An except from that blog entry:

As for the weight: Crumpler said if he was working as more of a pass catcher, he'd be 10 or 15 pounds lighter.

"But if I'm going to have to control that line of scrimmage, then I have to stay where I'm at," he said.

Which is where?

"You'll never get that out of me," he said.

Gigantic or not, Crumpler caught the ball well and moved OK. It's hard to imagine him ranking as a pass target very often ahead of Bo Scaife or rookie Jared Cook, sure to get some chances in the second half, once the season starts.

Two other thoughts:

On Trapasso's play: Jeff Fisher likes a nice special team fake and on a night when Craig Hentrich didn't dress, the coach clearly relished the opportunity to give an Ohio guy who played at Ohio State a big moment on a national TV stage.

Vince Young probably got undercut by a botched route on his first pass, a pick that wasn't a good throw no matter where his targets were supposed to be. He bounced back to throw a great ball on Paul Williams' touchdown catch. Nice concentration and footwork by Williams, who's overdue to show us something.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

CANTON, Ohio -- Good thing the Buffalo Bills get five of these games.

Their first exhibition didn't go so well for the starters on either side of the ball or on special teams.

At the end of the first quarter and down 14-0 to the Tennessee Titans in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, the Bills' starters appear done for the evening.

Bills coach Dick Jauron gave his starting offense one series. Trent Edwards, running the new no-huddle offense against an opponent for the first time, looked good until throwing an interception at the 7-yard line.

On the series, Edwards completed three of his four passes for 34 yards and scrambled 8 yards to convert a third down. Terrell Owens had 27 of those aerial yards on two receptions, both for first downs. But Titans safety Michael Griffin snuffed the drive.

Buffalo's first-team defense surrendered a touchdown on the ensuing drive. Tennessee went 73 yards on 11 plays to take a 14-0 lead. Bills cornerback Leodis McKelvin gave up a 19-yard Justin Gage reception on a third-and-15 play.

Buffalo's special teams got burned for the first touchdown. Tennessee's backup punter, rookie A.J. Trapasso, executed a brilliant hide-the-ball fake and darted 40 yards up the left sideline for a touchdown.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

CANTON, Ohio -- Stifling is the best word I can come up with.

The Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans broke a sweat just thinking about playing tonight's Pro Football Hall of Fame Game at Fawcett Stadium.

Temperatures reached the mid-90s this afternoon in Northeast Ohio. While the heat has eased a tad as shadows have gotten longer, it's still a sauna here.

Both teams are on the field, showing off their AFL throwback uniforms. The Bills are in their white-on-white duds and white helmets with the red buffalo. The Titans are honoring their origins in Houston Oilers gear. They're wearing blue jerseys, white pants and blue helmets with the derrick.

Only things missing are kickers in single-bar facemasks.

Here are a few pregame notes and storylines to follow for tonight's game:

  • Terrell Owens will be making his Bills debut. Don't expect him to play long, though.
  • The Bills will operate their no-huddle offense against a live opponent for the first time.
  • New left tackle Langston Walker will get to face right end Kyle Vanden Bosch.
  • Gibran Hamdan, not Ryan Fitzpatrick, is listed as the No. 2 quarterback on Buffalo's pregame depth chart.
  • Marshawn Lynch, who will be suspended for the first three games, is listed as the starting running back.
  • Rookie guards Eric Wood and Andy Levitre are in the starting lineup.
  • Bills cornerback Reggie Corner is a Canton native and played high school games at Fawcett Stadium.

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