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Titans' Collins comfortable under center as starting QB

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Kerry Collins has a simple plan now that coach Jeff Fisher made him the Tennessee starter at quarterback: make the team his.

The possibility that he keeps the job only as long as the Titans keep winning? The veteran quarterback couldn't ask for anything else.

"I'm excited about being part of what I think can be a good year," Collins said Wednesday.

"I think we've got a good bunch of guys. We've got guys who work hard. When you have that, you have a chance to be successful on Sunday. That's going to be my approach. Prepare as well as I can each week, try to have a good practice, get the mental part of it down and have fun on Sunday."

Collins spoke for the first time since Fisher announced he is sticking with the 14-year veteran as his starter while Vince Young heals his sprained left knee. Collins started the first three games over Young in 2006, but the veteran had less than two weeks to learn the offense before that season started.

Hearing Fisher declare him quarterback helps put Collins' mind at ease, not that he's looking too far into the future.

"It just puts anything to rest about what's going to happen. ... As long as we're winning and everything's going OK, I'll be in there," Collins said.

Collins is much more comfortable now in his third season with this team, and he is very excited to be playing. Winning over his teammates? His approach involves letting them see how he prepares to start during the week and how he plays on Sunday.

"Ultimately, I think you have to have guys believe in you, and I feel like I've got support in this locker room and I appreciate that. Those kind of things develop with time and with games and guys seeing how you play and how you react and how you work. It's a day-to-day process, but the process takes shape over time," Collins said.

Collins hasn't been a regular since 2005, when he went 4-12 with the Oakland Raiders, with 15 starts. But the 35-year-old quarterback took Carolina to the NFC Championship Game and the New York Giants to the 2001 Super Bowl.

He won his 150th start last weekend with a 24-7 victory at Cincinnati, and he is 16-of-23 for 193 yards with one touchdown this season in helping the Titans start 2-0.

His passer rating is 109.5 with a completion percentage of 69.6, a big difference from the numbers posted by Young, who didn't seem to have any fun in the opener.

Young threw his helmet after his second interception, was booed by the hometown fans and appeared to refuse to return to the game before spraining his left knee. A day later, worries about his mental state prompted a call to police to help find him.

The quarterback stayed at home last weekend receiving treatment on his knee. He watched practice on Wednesday and was in meetings. Fisher said he has no timetable for Young's return, which he added depends on how the quarterback's knee heals.

But the coach also is thinking of taking advantage of this time to give Young the chance he never really got as a rookie to study how a veteran quarterback prepares and plays in the NFL. That might even mean putting Young upstairs in the coaches' box Sunday against the Texans (0-1).

"Whatever we do with Vince on Sunday will be what's best for Vince," Fisher said.

Veteran linebacker Keith Bulluck agreed that could be a big benefit to Young. He knows because he worked as the color commentator during the Titans' exhibition finale as he sat out with an injury himself, and got a view of the game he'd never had before. Bulluck hasn't talked with Young since Fisher's announcement about the starting change.

His advice to the No. 3 overall pick is this is an opportunity to grow stronger and better.

"We all know regardless of the situation 10's number is going to be called again, and he's going to have to perform," Bulluck said.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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