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There’s still a lot of mystery surrounding troubled Tennessee quarterback Vince Young. One thing that’s certain is that he won’t be in the lineup as the Titans try to open a season 2-0 for the first time since 1999.
Young struggled in his season opener, completing 12 of 22 passes for 110 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Fans booed heavily as he was slow to head back onto the field late in the fourth quarter. Four plays later, Young hurt his knee and left the game.
That was a blow to the Titans, but the aftermath was far more disturbing. Coach Jeff Fisher called police Monday night to help locate Young, whose mental state was in question. That led to four hours of uncertainty before Young contacted the Titans and met with Fisher, a psychologist and police crisis negotiators at the team’s headquarters before driving himself home.
Fisher wasn’t specific about why he called the police. On Friday, The City Paper reported on its Web site it had obtained a copy of a “matter of record” supplement report on the search obtained through a public records request.
It said the police were called because Young’s therapist told Fisher the quarterback had mentioned suicide several times before driving away from his home with a gun.
The therapist said Young talked of quitting, mentioned suicide, and discussed his mood and emotions over his injury.
Young spoke publicly Thursday for the first time this week. His mother, Felicia Young, also told a local newspaper that the quarterback had indicated he didn’t want to play football anymore because of all the negativity he faced.
Young said he’s committed to the Titans.
“Football, this is my life. This is my dream. All I did all these years growing up to get to this point and never had an injury like this before in my life,” he said.
“It’s a hard time because I’m a competitor, and I definitely want to be out on the football field with my teammates.”
Fisher ruled out Young’s return for Sunday’s game on his TV show Tuesday. The coach would not give a timetable past that, calling the test results good news and saying that Young needs to rest his leg.
In Young’s place, Collins will start for the fifth time since the beginning of the 2006 season. He went 0-3 in 2006 and 1-0 last year. The Titans signed Chris Simms on Wednesday to back up Collins.
While Young and the Titans struggled offensively last week, the Tennessee defense stepped up to help deliver a 17-10 win over AFC South rival Jacksonville. The Titans had seven sacks, forced three turnovers and held the Jaguars to 189 total yards - third-fewest in the NFL in Week 1.
“I thought this defense was capable of playing really well,” Pro Bowl end Kyle Vanden Bosch said. “I knew we would play well today, but I was surprised. We did well in all facets of the game today.”
Tennessee’s defense could be without All-Pro tackle Albert Haynesworth, who missed a second straight practice Thursday because of a mild concussion.
“Obviously, he’s a very important part of our defense, and we’re hoping we have him available for Sunday,” Fisher said.
Last week’s defensive effort put the Titans in position to go 2-0 for the first time since 1999, when they finished the regular season 13-3 and fell one yard short of a game-tying touchdown in the final seconds of a Super Bowl loss to St. Louis.
Cincinnati is all too familiar with stingy defense after suffering a 17-10 loss to AFC North rival Baltimore last Sunday. The Bengals, who ranked in the top 10 in total offense each of the last two seasons, were held to eight first downs and an NFL-low 154 total yards.
“We got beat,” said quarterback Carson Palmer, who was 10-of-25 for 99 yards with an interception and a passer rating of 35.3. “We got outplayed. It was just an ugly game offensively.”
Palmer didn’t get much help from his offensive line, which gave up two sacks after allowing only 17 all of last season. Palmer was also knocked down repeatedly as the pass protection continued to break down.
“It was spread out - everybody takes some of the blame,” coach Marvin Lewis said.
The inauspicious opener didn’t do much to calm the controversy surrounding the Bengals, long considered a team in turmoil. Their latest tumultuous offseason featured trade demands from receiver Chad Johnson, who later legally changed his last name to Ocho Cinco.
Ocho Cinco and fellow Pro Bowl receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh both skipped voluntary workouts over the summer, then combined for only four catches and 66 yards in the opener.
Despite his team’s ongoing reputation as one of the league’s most dysfunctional, Lewis said he’s confident it learned something last week.
Palmer was just as optimistic.
“I think it’s already fixed,” he told the Bengals’ official Web site. “We’ve all seen it on film. It’s one of those film sessions you feel sick. You’re healthy, but you feel sick to your stomach watching it. Watching the opportunities slip by.
“This is a great test for us. We got beat last week and we have another physical group coming in for our home opener. We can completely change the feeling we had … if we come out and be physical, running the ball, throwing the ball and coming out with a win.”
The Bengals have won their last two games against the Titans, including a 35-6 rout on Nov. 25. Palmer completed 32 of 38 passes for 283 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in that game.