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Old 10-01-2006, 12:19 PM   #1
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Default Soap Opera Surrounds Cowboys-Titans Game

By TERESA M. WALKER, AP Sports Writer 24 minutes ago

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Internet buzz, the head coach angrily blasting a player,
fans upset over the direction of the team and a rookie quarterback making his
first NFL start against a team he grew up watching. That's just the
Tennessee Titans. Now mix in the Dallas Cowboys and the traveling T.O. circus,
and what seemed like just another NFL matchup now features the kind of drama
and attention not even soap operas generate.


The Titans (0-3) only hope all the attention over receiver Terrell Owens'
hospital visit distracts the Cowboys (1-1) enough to let them pull out their
first victory this season, stopping a six-game skid going back to last season.
And they're desperate enough to start Vince Young, the first quarterback
drafted last April.

"Whatever you want to call it ? frustrated, desperate, hungry, in need of ?
whatever you want to put on it, this team is definitely looking for a win any
way we can get it," Titans receiver Drew Bennett said.

On Sunday morning, the Cowboys answered one of the biggest questions of the
game when the team said Owens would start against the Titans.

His status had been questionable because Owens had a plate inserted before the
Cowboys' bye last week to protect his broken right hand. Then he was
hospitalized Tuesday night for what Dallas police classified as an accidental
drug overdose.

The Cowboys went into their bye having won their home opener 27-10 over
Washington despite nine penalties. They must avoid looking ahead a week to
their visit to NFC East leader Philadelphia, and this is the second of three
road trips in the first four games for Dallas.

Linebacker Bradie James has been hearing people already count Tennessee as an
easy Dallas victory.

"This won't be an easy game because they have a lot on the line as far as
their season. They're not a bad team. They've been in two of their last three
games, losing by seven and three points. So it's a good team that we're
getting ready to face," James said.

"We can't fall into any trap. You got to respect all your opponents and fear
none."

The Titans drafted Young out of Texas, then traded Steve McNair to Baltimore
in June. Tennessee gave the starting job to Billy Volek, signed veteran Kerry
Collins and then traded Volek to San Diego.

On Monday, coach Jeff Fisher chose Collins as his starter against Dallas. Fans
wanted Fisher to start Young, who had spot duty in the first two games but
didn't play in last weekend's 13-10 loss at Miami.

"If you want to see if Vince is going to play, you're going to have to watch
the game," Fisher said.

But the news leaked Saturday afternoon that Fisher indeed was starting Young,
the junior who became the No. 3 pick overall after leading the Longhorns to
the national title last January.

Young grew up watching Troy Aikman and said starting a rookie isn't a sign of
a team giving up.

Dallas coach Bill Parcells prepared for both Collins and Young. He has used
practice-squad receiver Damarius Bilbo, who played some quarterback at Georgia
Tech, to imitate Young at practice, but he said he didn't think any of the
rookie quarterbacks are ready to start.

"It can be destructive," he said. "It can shake somebody's confidence as
well."

One more loss mires the Titans in their worst start to a season since going
0-10 in 1984 as the Houston Oilers. The losing prompted two fans to start
http://www.firecoachfisher.com, while Fisher focuses on the positive of being
back home.

"With coast-to-coast, back-to-back trips and then facing one of the top teams
after a bye week is a challenge. If we are going to meet the challenge there's
no place better to do it than at home," he said.

The Titans have won two of the last three in this series with their ex-Texas
rival, but Dallas has a stingy defense that came up with six sacks in its last
game. Injuries might leave Tennessee, averaging 11 points a game with none in
the first quarter, without starting guards Benji Olson (right calf) and Zach
Piller (left ankle), which might be why the mobile Young is starting.

That puts the pressure on a Tennessee defense that had six sacks of its own
against Miami and is looking forward to chasing Bledsoe, who was intercepted
three times in an opening loss at Jacksonville.

The Titans have yet to intercept a pass.

"If we can get after him and make him see things that aren't really there as
far as the secondary and underneath coverage is concerned, we might have a
pretty successful day against him," Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck said.
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