After a week off to rest an ailing back and facing an injury-depleted secondary, Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair has the opportunity to put himself among some of the franchise’s elite names when the Oakland Raiders visit Adelphia Coliseum.
McNair, the third selection overall in 1995 by the Houston Oilers, needs three scoring passes to join Warren Moon and George Blanda as the only players in club history to throw for 150 touchdowns.
McNair has 147 TD passes in 131 games. Moon spent the first 10 years of a 17-year NFL career with Houston and threw 196 of his 291 scoring passes in an Oilers uniform.
Blanda played 26 years of professional football from 1949-75 and tossed 165 of his 236 TD passes with the Oilers from 1960-66.
McNair did not play in Tennessee’s 20-10 loss to Arizona last week due to a sore back. Titans coach Jeff Fisher said Monday he expected him to start against the Raiders.
“It really helped him,” Fisher said about the week off for McNair. “He went out and threw today and felt pretty good. It’s good to get him back.”
McNair has struggled against the Raiders, though Tennessee’s record doesn’t reflect that. In five games against Oakland, McNair has completed 97 of 156 passes for 1,141 yards with six touchdowns and nine interceptions, but the Titans are 4-1 in those games.
If McNair is unable to go, Fisher can call upon backup Billy Volek, who had a career game against the Raiders last season. In a 40-35 home loss, Volek went 40-of-60 for 492 yards and four touchdowns.
Oakland’s pass defense, already one of the league’s weakest, enters this contest without two of its best defensive backs. Cornerback Charles Woodson suffered a broken right leg and strong safety Derrick Gibson dislocated his left wrist in Oakland’s 38-17 win Sunday over Buffalo.
Woodson and Gibson are both expected to be sidelined up to two months.
“We’re going to miss them both a hell of a lot,” defensive tackle Warren Sapp said. “But the show goes on.”
The Raiders are ranked 25th in the league in pass defense, allowing 228.2 yards per game. Their two interceptions tie them with Houston and Washington for 29th in the league.
Oakland may look to running back LaMont Jordan to build on his breakout game of a week ago. Signed away from the New York Jets as a free agent during the offseason, Jordan ran for 122 yards and tied a club record with three rushing touchdowns in the win over the Bills.
“Those are the runs I’ve been waiting for all year,” Jordan said. “It means a lot to me. I’m a competitor.”
Jordan has scored touchdowns in five straight games and needs 47 yards to equal his output from last season, when he rushed for 479 yards.
Quarterback Kerry Collins seems to save some of his best games for the Titans. In his last two starts against Tennessee, Collins has thrown for 654 yards with seven touchdowns and one interception.