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Young staying positive while struggling to complete passes

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Vince Young bounced a pass to a receiver, overthrew another and finished his play by throwing five straight incompletions to the sound of some boos from the home fans. Through two exhibitions, he has completed seven passes in the seven series he has played.

If this is what the Tennessee Titans call offensive rhythm, then something is missing so far. Not that coach Jeff Fisher sounds worried with two preseason games left before their opener Sept. 7 against Jacksonville.

He insisted Saturday that Young has improved his accuracy and defended his quarterback's footwork after a 17-16 win over Oakland on Friday night in which the quarterback was 4-of-13 for 37 yards.

"He was very good at where to go and through his progressions. That was not a problem. He was sharp," Fisher said. "The completions, the incomplete passes and things, you look at the numbers and say he struggled. There's reasons for things that happened each play. He did misfire on a couple of them. He had people in his face in a couple plays; he couldn't step up."

Fisher blamed the struggles on a coaching decision to stay basic with the game plan against the Raiders' stingy man-to-man defense. Fisher also said the game didn't look as bad as he anticipated once he studied the tape, finding mistakes he sees as easily fixable.

"A quarterback's back foot hits the ground, for example. He's supposed to cut the ball loose and the receiver's not out of the break. Those are things that need to be corrected," Fisher said.

Improving the passing offense has been a big focus for the Titans since losing to San Diego in a wild-card playoff game last January. Young improved his accuracy in his second season from 51.5 percent as a rookie to 62.3 percent last year but struggled with only nine touchdown passes against 17 interceptions.

The Titans brought in tight end Alge Crumpler and receiver Justin McCareins to give Young more targets and help an offense that ranked last in the NFL inside an opponent's 20.

The Titans have produced only one field goal with Young at quarterback this preseason, and he is a combined 7-of-19 for 54 yards. Against Oakland, the first-team offense went three-and-out three times.

"It certainly wasn't anything special," running back LenDale White said. "We have a lot of things to work on and have to do a better job of getting first downs and extending drives. We have to convert third and short and also catch the ball. We have a lot of things to work on."

McCareins missed the opener with tight hamstrings and didn't catch a ball against Oakland.

"We need to get on the same page a little better. We need to get some of those easy passes in one-on-one coverage. We've got to complete those," he said.

Even though the Titans rushed for 200 fewer yards against Oakland than they did in their preseason opener, they still ran for 140 yards on 26 carries -- a nice 5.4-yard average. Young also showed that he was listening to the advice to protect himself on his lone scramble as he hustled out of bounds away from a defender.

Young left the game after playing five series and failing to complete his last five passes. On the Titans' best scoring chance with the first-team offense, Young threw deep to Bo Scaife on first down at the Oakland 31. A nice-looking pass was broken up and nearly picked off by Raiders safety Michael Huff.

He then was incomplete on his next two passes, and the Titans had to settle for a 49-yard field goal attempt that missed wide right, as All Pro kicker Rob Bironas sat out a second game with a pulled groin. Young walked off the field looking frustrated.

Young said he couldn't get into rhythm but is confident the offense will improve.

"I just have got to complete the ball. That's basically it. I have to continue to keep working as a receiver corps. We got to just get the team to keep working on the little things. That's basically it. But on my part, my reads and everything were right," Young said.

"The good part about it is I got the ball out of my hands, and I made the right read. It's going to be even better next week. I wonder what they'll say after that."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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