Young sees enough talent to improve passing attack

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans have been criticized for not drafting a wide receiver in the first round to help Vince Young. Asked for his thoughts on that subject, the quarterback said Friday he has enough help.

Now the challenge is for him to improve.

"If I don't pay attention, that's my fault. If I do, with the talent that I have and the chemistry I have and all the guys and the weapons I have around me, all I have to do is stay focused and work hard and I feel I'll be all right," Young said after a minicamp session on Friday.

The Titans used their top pick instead on running back Chris Johnson, the fastest player in the draft with a time of 4.24 seconds in the 40. Tennessee did draft a receiver but waited until the fourth round before taking Lavelle Hawkins of California.

Young can't wait to see Johnson on the field. But he said the decision signaled that the Titans feel they have the right receivers already on the roster to improve the offense.

"We just need to keep working ... We're doing a lot of work to get ourselves better and better," Young said.

That said, the Titans need the work and improvement should be easy to achieve because no NFL team threw as few touchdown passes in 2007 as Tennessee with only nine, all by Young. It was the fewest TD passes in a 16-game season for a team that reached the playoffs.

Buffalo combined for 12 by three quarterbacks, while Miami at least had 12 despite winning only one game. Minnesota went 8-8 despite having only 12 TDs passing.

No one's asking Young to mimic what Tom Brady did with 50 TD passes for New England last year, something highly unlikely as long as Jeff Fisher remains the head coach. But a team that went 10-6 and suffered a 17-6 wild-card loss to San Diego must find more ways to get into the end zone, especially through the air.

Fisher said the Titans, who held their fourth on-field session of the offseason Friday and the first open to the media, are working on lots of areas, including the 20 yards closest to the goal line.

"We got into the two-minute phase today. We got in the plus territory; we're going to continue to work on that. What we're trying to do is win more games than we won last year, however we do that," Fisher said. "I believe we can stand to improve in the plus territory."

Helping Young improve in his third NFL season is why Fisher fired Norm Chow in January and replaced him with Mike Heimerdinger as offensive coordinator. Heimerdinger helped Steve McNair earn co-MVP honors in 2003, works well with receivers and loves to stretch the field by throwing deep occasionally.

That was on display Friday as Young connected with receiver Brandon Jones on a nice long throw.

Fisher said the only flaws in Young's game can be fixed by playing time, but Heimerdinger is working with Young to see situations over and over to help recognize defenses. The coordinator also has been working to refine Young's footwork.

"I wouldn't say there are flaws. He is a very talented, young quarterback," Fisher said.

Young went back to college at the University of Texas in January and finished up course work Monday. He is one course away from being able to graduate, which he expects to do in May 2009. But even with his classes, Young spent three days a week with Heimerdinger on Wednesday through Friday.

The quarterback said Heimerdinger has been helping him keep his feet under him more to improve his accuracy when throwing. Young upped his completion percentage by about 10 points to 62.3 percent in 2007 from his rookie season, but the Titans averaged only 179.9 yards passing -- 27th in the NFL.

The Titans did sign free agent receiver Justin McCareins and re-signed receiver Justin Gage. Mike Williams has lost more than 20 pounds in trying to salvage his career, while Jones is healthy again and Roydell Williams is healing from a broken ankle.

Tennessee ranked as high as fifth in the NFL in passing under Heimerdinger in 2003. Fisher said Young understands that.

"He knows what Mike has done and what he can do. Mike clearly understands and sees Vince's potential, so they are working hard to try to get the ball in the end zone. That is the bottom line," Fisher said.

Notes: S Michael Griffin, finishing up his own finals back at Texas, was excused Friday along with kicker Rob Bironas, who just signed his one-year tender. DE Bryce Fisher, DT Antonio Johnson and DB Chris Carr also were excused. DE Kyle Vanden Bosch watched after practicing Thursday, and Fisher said Vanden Bosch should return Tuesday along with DE Jacob Ford.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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