Bengals Host Tennessee In Home Opener

The Bengals are trying to get into the win column while Tennessee comes to town seeking a 2-0 start to the season behind backup QB Kerry Collins. JungleInsider.com gives you a preview of the matchup at Paul Brown Stadium.

WHO: Cincinnati Bengals (0-1) vs. Tennessee Titans (1-0)

WHERE: Paul Brown Stadium

WHEN: Sunday, 1:00 ET

SERIES: 72nd meeting. Titans lead the all-time series, 38-32-1.

LAST MEETING: Bengals won, 35-6, at Paul Brown Stadium.

KEYS TO THE GAME: With QB Kerry Collins taking over for injured Vince Young, the Titans should receive a boost to their fledgling passing game. Collins has better ability to stretch the field vertically and keep the Bengals from sitting on the ground game. Collins lacks mobility, but the Bengals' only consistent threat in the pass rush is former Titan DE Antwan Odom, who will work against LT Michael Roos. ... Bengals QB Carson Palmer has thrown for 802 yards and five touchdowns in three career games against the Titans, but he'll have a difficult time matching that previous success if the pass protection doesn't improve drastically. That includes running backs and tight ends who failed repeatedly in blitz pick-up in Week 1. RB Chris Perry won't find many running lanes against the Titans' front seven, so Cincinnati really needs Palmer to have time to attack downfield.

KEY INJURIES: Titans: DT Albert Haynesworth (concussion) is expected to play. Bengals: DE Frostee Rucker (foot) is expected to play but S Dexter Jackson (thumb) missed practice all week and won't play.

FAST FACTS: Cincinnati is the only team Collins has not faced during his 14-year career. ... WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh is fourth on the Bengals' all-time list with 418 receptions.

PERSONNEL NEWS:

Titans:

*QB Kerry Collins should benefit greatly from getting the first-team reps and, provided the Titans' maligned group of receivers get off the line consistently, the passing game could get a nice boost beginning this week at Cincinnati.

"He puts it in the area where the receivers have a chance to make a play," offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger said. "Whenever underneath, deep or wherever he throws it, he has a pretty good touch and gets it in the right places."

*DT Albert Haynesworth missed practice for a second straight day, but said he took a baseline test regarding his concussion on Wednesday, and the results are close to normal. Haynesworth said he likely won't practice on Friday as a precaution, but expects he will suit up and start on Sunday. He called his week of watching practice "a Steve McNair week," after the ex-Titan quarterback's penchant for missing practice time with injuries and playing on game days.

*RB Chris Henry being inactive last week appeared to be very telling of his standing in the team's plans. The 2007 second-round pick was not active against the Jaguars in the season opener, despite the fact that RB Quinton Ganther was out with a hamstring injury, leaving Chris Johnson and LenDale White as the team's only running backs.

*DB Chris Carr, signed as a restricted free agent from Oakland in the offseason primarily to take over the punt return and kickoff return duties, had an inauspicious debut with the Titans.

Carr averaged just 16.5 yards on two kickoff returns and only 7.5 yards on two punt returns. His longest kickoff return went for only 21 yards and his longest punt return was for only eight yards.

*TE Alge Crumpler had a low-impact debut for the Titans against Jacksonville with only one reception for four yards. Crumpler was used mainly for blocking and had a nice block on one of rookie RB Chris Johnson's runs, but should begin to make more of an impact in the passing game as well.

*DE Jacob Ford is a question mark for this week's game after suffering a sternum injury against the Jaguars. Ford, the team's third defensive end, has not practiced all week. Dave Ball would move up in the rotation if Ford is out on Sunday against the Bengals.

*RB Quinton Ganther remains sidelined with a hamstring injury suffered the Friday practice before the opener and likely won't play Sunday.

Bengals:

*SS Dexter Jackson (thumb) was not at practice Friday and will not play.

*SS Chinedum Ndukwe (knee), who was hurt the second week of training camp, returned to practice this week and will replace Jackson.

*CB David Jones, the Bengals' nickel back, sustained a concussion at Baltimore but returned to practice Friday and is expected to be available to play.

*S Herana-Daze Jones, a solid defensive backup and strong special teams player is doubtful due to a hamstring injury.

*DE Frostee Rucker (foot) returned to practice in limited fashion Thursday and participated fully Friday.

*DT Pat Sims (toe) practiced all three days this week.

INSIDE THE CAMPS:

Titans:

Vince Young attempted to set the record straight Thursday about the melodrama that surrounded him earlier in the week.

The Tennessee Titans quarterback spoke to the media for the first time since Sunday's win over Jacksonville when he appeared reluctant to re-enter the game in the fourth quarter, injured his knee four plays after returning, then missed his scheduled MRI on Monday and had police SWAT team members searching for him after he went missing for four hours Monday evening.

Young recounted his version of what transpired that Monday evening when he left his home abruptly, prompting his mother to call coach Jeff Fisher, who in turn called Metro Police.

"It was just so many people coming over to the house and with what I was going through, I just needed my space to think and let the cloud go away for a minute. And that's what I did. I left," Young said. "My mom saw me, and she thought I wasn't in my right mind, and (the) whole time I was watching the game (at a friend's house) and ... eating some hot wings, and all of a sudden, my man came in and said, 'They're looking for you.' And I said, 'Why are they looking for me?'"

Young pointed to his mother's concerns for his well-being as the trigger for the melodrama that exploded over the next few hours and the following day in the media.

"It's like I was when I was little, when I was a kid. You had to tell your mama where you were going. But even though you're paying your own bills at your own house, you've still got to tell your mama where you're going now," Young said. "So I understand where my mama was coming from. She just wanted to know where I'm going. And I didn't take my cell phone because there were so many people calling me to make sure I was all right."

Young refuted speculation and talk that he was ready to quit football and believes he will be the starting quarterback once he rehabs a sprained left MCL that could keep him out 2-4 weeks.

"I'm here. I'm ready to play," he said. "They drafted me to be the quarterback here with this organization, and that's what they want me to do. That's what I like about our organization. They're behind me."

Fisher indicated Wednesday that Young would return to his starting role, but offered a caveat that the quarterback needed to "get some things back in perspective."

The Titans will hand the reins to 14-year veteran Kerry Collins, beginning Sunday at Cincinnati. There is the belief of some in the organization that for now Collins could be better equipped to lead this team. Furthermore, if an offense that has sputtered since last year suddenly perks up under the veteran, it might be hard to remove him from the lineup of a team that believes, based on its defense, that it has a potential deep playoff run within its grasp.

Bengals:

Bengals defensive end Antwan Odom will face his old team, Tennessee, in the Bengals' home opener Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium. Odom has looked forward to the game since signing with the Bengals in March.

He had a career-high eight sacks in 2007 for the Titans and led the team with 29 quarterback pressures. Odom started all 16 games for the playoff-bound Titans in 2007, which helped him secure a five-year, $29.5 million deal from the Bengals as an unrestricted free agent.

"You always want to beat your former team, so I'm excited. We've got our work cut out for us, though," Odom said. He has invited 16 friends and family members to watch the showdown.

He had only one tackle in the Bengals' opener. Coach Marvin Lewis attributed it to anxiousness and limited snaps, following a sprained foot in training camp, but expects to see more of him Sunday.

"We saw some of the things of why we brought him here. He was able to show he can rush the passer, and that's a good thing," Lewis said.

Odom said he needed to work on his conditioning, a byproduct of a preseason injury. He sprained his left ankle on the first day of training camp. Odom had a more severe injury two years ago. He played sparingly in 2006 because of a knee injury, but rebounded with the impressive 2007 effort.

"Antwan, when he is healthy, will live up to everyone's expectations. He is a very talented defensive player. He is a good run defender, he's got exceptional quickness and strike and leverage. And he's a very good pass rusher," Titans coach Jeff Fisher said.

The Bengals signed Odom to bolster what was the NFL's worst pass rush in 2007. They had just 22 sacks. The Titans, on the other hand, had seven in their opening victory against Jacksonville.

Odom said he has had a smooth transition to his new club. He still stays in touch with Tennessee linebacker Keith Bulluck, quarterback Vince Young and defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch. But there hasn't been much smack-talking among them just yet.

"That comes right before the game," Odom said.

PREDICTION: Bengals 27-23

Copyright (C) 2008 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved. Reprints, duplication or redistribution is prohibited without written permission from The Sports Xchange.


Bengals Insider Top Stories