Tennessee at Indianapolis; Game Preview

Breakdown preview of the Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts battle in week-two of the NFL season.

Tennessee Titans (1-0) at Indianapolis Colts (1-0)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
SURFACE: AstroTurf
TV: CBS, Ian Eagle, Solomon Wilcots
SERIES: 18th meeting. Tennessee swept the first series as AFC South rivals last year and has won five of the last six meetings.
2003 RANKINGS: Titans: offense 11th (22nd rush, 5th pass); defense 12th (1st rush, 24th pass). Colts: offense 23rd (24th rush, 18th pass); defense 11th (16th rush, 11th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: Colts coach Tony Dungy said it's important for his team not to fall behind, and to eliminate the mental mistakes that almost cost them a Week 1 victory. Indianapolis also needs to contain Titans QB Steve McNair, who has a 105.4 passer rating in three career games against the Colts. That will be made easier if Tennessee can't get its running game going. Center Jeff Hartings struggled in the opener, but the Colts defense relies on speed and can have difficulty against a good power running game.
FAST FACTS: Titans: Tennessee has won the past three meetings. ... RB Eddie George has 308 rushing yards in three career games against Indianapolis. Colts: RB Edgerrin James needs 20 yards to become the fifth running back in team history to run for 5,000 yards in a career. ... WR Marvin Harrison has caught a pass in 109 consecutive games. ... Indianapolis has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in the past 13 regular season games.

PREDICTED SCORE: Titans 23, Colts 20

   --TE Frank Wycheck is out of Sunday's game in Indianapolis and for the near future with concussion symptoms.
   --TE Erron Kinney is on the injury report with a knee problem, but it's not expected to have a bearing on his status for Sunday.
   --TE Shad Meier will be more prominent and get increased chances while Frank Wycheck (concussion) remains out of actions.
   --WR Justin McCareins secured the punt return job with a solid opening day performance.
   --Eddie George will probably get plenty of opportunities on Sunday, and perhaps he stands a better chance against a smaller defense. But Indy is built on quickness, so George is not going to find major open spaces without knocking someone over.
   --FS Lance Schulters will play nickelback again as the Titans wait on Andre Woolfolk, who is unlikely to be brought back from his toe injury on the RCA Dome turf.
   --RB Chris Brown (hamstring) is likely at least a week away, and people are greatly anticipating his addition to the offense.
   --QB Steve McNair is coming off a swollen left knee, but often plays better when he's a little banged up. His status for Sunday is not at all in question for the Colts game.
   --CB Samari Rolle will get his chances against WR Marvin Harrison, but so will a lot of other defenders. It does not appear that Rolle will be following Harrison wherever he lines up.
   --OLB Peter Sirmon played very well in two games against the Colts last season, recording 13 tackles in each game and returning an interception 31 yards in the game at the RCA Dome.
   --K Gary Anderson will take all field goal attempts unless the Titans are in a desperate situation and send P Craig Hentrich on for something beyond 50 yards.

   -- C Jeff Saturday sat out Thursday's practice as a precautionary measure. Saturday has been bothered by back spasms for the past week. He is expected to be able to take part in Friday's short workout and play Sunday against Tennessee.
   --Should Saturday be unable to play against the Titans Sunday, backup C/OG Tupe Peko would get the start. Peko has yet to start an NFL game.
   --DE Dwight Freeney returned to practice on Thursday and is expected to start against Tennessee. Freeney suffered a bruised shin last week at Cleveland and did not practice on Monday or Wednesday.
   --CB Walt Harris did not practice Thursday, but it wasn't the tendonitis in his knee that was bothering him. Harris is suffering cold and flu symptoms and was held out of the workout. He is expected to play Sunday.
   --RB James Mungro is ready to play after missing most of the pre-season schedule with bruised rib cartilage. He will be a game-time decision as to whether he will be activated for Sunday's game with Tennessee.
   --WR Brandon Stokley continues to struggle with a pulled hamstring and will probably not play against the Titans.

   Veteran Gary Anderson is the Titans' new field goal kicker and will take the place of Joe Nedney who's out for the year with a torn ACL in his right knee.
   Anderson signed a one-year deal worth $755,000 that will count $450,000 against the salary cap. He was fishing in Colorado when the Titans reached him and he beat out Neil Rackers and Brett Conway who also auditioned.
   "What we wanted was someone that had been in big games before and had kicked and kicked consistently," Titans coach Jeff Fisher said.
   Anderson hit between 20 and 30 field goal attempts and missed only one. Distance is apparently not a concern, as with a fresh leg he hit from 49.
   Craig Hentrich will take over kickoffs and have reduced work in practice as the Titans look to keep him fresh. He will only try a desperation super-long field goal in a game.
   Anderson's deal with the Titans gives him a unique allowance to head home to his family in Minnesota after games and rejoin the team on Wednesdays as it begins preparations for the next opponent.
   "They were very receptive to that idea," Anderson said. "I would not be playing if that wasn't a part of the equation."

   Anybody want to buy some Indianapolis Colts tickets?
   As it stands now, there will certainly be more than a few -- as in a few thousand -- remaining for Sunday's home-opener against the Tennessee Titans. Nearly 2,900 tickets remained unsold as of Thursday afternoon.
   Since the game was not sold out by noon Thursday, it will not be televised within a 75-mile radius of the RCA Dome. The blackout would be the third in the last two seasons for Indianapolis.
   Colts officials fully expect that the key AFC South clash will probably be a sellout by the time the game kicks off at noon on Sunday, thanks in large measure to a run on tickets by desperate Titans' fans who are expected to make the five-hour drive north to see their favorite team play.
   Tennessee has sold out all of their home games already this season and has a lengthy waiting list. Many of those on the Titans' waiting list are expected to buy tickets for Sunday's game as the team is listing the RCA Dome ticket office phone number on its website.
   Such was the case in 1999 when the Colts and Titans faced off in an AFC Divisional playoff at the RCA Dome. While Indianapolis fans outnumbered those who came up from Tennessee, it wasn't by much. Titans fans did their best to counter any possible home field advantage the Colts might have enjoyed.
   "We can only control what we can control. Certainly, that's not the ideal situation. You hear the fact that there are tickets available, but we can only worry about the team that we're going to see on the field and, believe me, that's plenty to think about when you see guys like (Jevon) Kearse and (Kevin) Carter and (Albert) Haynesworth," said Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning.
   "But like I said. I can't really worry about it. I know what kind of support the Titans have down there. From the time that I spent in Tennessee, fans are certainly crazy about their Titans, which is no surprise because it's such a great football state. All I can do is worry about the game on the field. If we can win, hopefully (Indianapolis) fans will keep coming."

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