Vince Young's New Maturity

VINCE YOUNG'S NEW MATURITY

Vince Young has a new son at home and a new position coach at the office.

Listen to those surrounding the fifth-year Titans quarterback and they'll tell you he has some other new things since last season, intangibles that have him in position to play the best football of his NFL career so far.

"He has changed noticeably," said veteran guard Jake Scott, a Titan since 2008. "He's a different guy than before, and I think Vince's maturity is what has improved the most. You can see it — his presence in the huddle, around the locker room. He has taken a more professional approach. And I think it will show more and more, and pay off."

There is plenty of confidence enveloping Young, which is a big change from this time last year when Kerry Collins was the unquestioned starter. To many, it appeared Young's once-promising career was at a dead end. And privately, team officials did little to dispute the notion.

Then came an 0-6 start behind Collins. Young returned to the lineup, led an 8-2 finish and regained a lot of the confidence he'd lost since his NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year season of 2006.

It carried over. By most accounts, Young had the best offseason of his career. Through three days of training camp, he seems to be in a good place.

"His practice attitude has been really good. If he makes a mistake right now he is telling me when he makes a mistake, where before I had to tell him if there was a mistake," offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger said. "So he is taking accountability. He is much farther ahead at this point than he was this time last year, light years ahead. So I hope he will make as big a jump on the field."

Young, who has a record of 26-13 as a starter, likes his chances to make the leap.

"I feel excited … and I feel like I am very comfortable. I feel like I am more at home," Young said. "I definitely know everybody's job and assignment and things like that. I am kind of like an extra coach, extra voice for coach Heimerdinger."

Young acknowledged that he's much quicker to pick up mistakes by teammates — running the wrong route, failing to recognize a blitz — and tell them the corrections.

"I couldn't even do that 2½ years ago," Young said. "So that is how much progress has been for myself."

In past offseasons Young's attendance was spotty and his dedication was debatable. Fullback Ahmard Hall estimated the quarterback was at Baptist Sports Park for 95 percent of this offseason.

Young was frequently with Heimerdinger, but also spent a lot of his own time watching film of himself, his teammates, opposing defenses. Now teammates say Young is more confident in the huddle and makes crisp decisions when it comes time to throw the ball. Heimerdinger said Young has become a more accurate passer.

"He has definitely grown as a quarterback," said Dowell Loggains, who took over as quarterbacks coach last week when Craig Johnson was promoted to assistant head coach/running backs. "His knowledge of the game is a whole lot better."

Young said the adversity of the past few seasons forced him to grow up. And while he put himself up for more scrutiny after getting into a fight at a Dallas strip club in June, he said he learned from the experience. A meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in the wake of the incident was the lowlight of an offseason otherwise filled with good vibes.

Coach Jeff Fisher is among those with high hopes. He points to Young's supporting cast, from NFL Offensive Player of the Year Chris Johnson, to a receiving corps with a good mix of veterans and rising talent, to a sure-handed tight end in Bo Scaife.

"I'm very pleased with (Young's) offseason, the commitment, the improvement," Fisher said. "I believe we have surrounded him with the best skill players to date that he's been on the field with. That simply will help in his improvement.

"He has room to improve, but I think what he was able to accomplish on the field this offseason, I think all the signs are there for him to have a great year."

by Jim Wyatt
from tennessean.com

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