posted on Aug, 15 2004 @ 11:17 AM
Chris Brown is doing his very best to help the Tennessee Titans not miss Eddie George right now. Jeff Garcia will need a little more time to make a
good impression on the Cleveland Browns.
Brown ran for 46 yards on only six carries, and Steve McNair threw for a touchdown as the Titans downed Cleveland 24-3 Saturday night in the preseason
opener for both teams.
"Chris Brown did an excellent job of running the ball," Titans receiver Derrick Mason said. "I think we're going to be a very productive running team
Brown, the Titans' third-round draft pick in 2003, missed the entire preseason last year because of a strained hamstring. But he averaged 7.7 yards
per carry in his first work as the Titans' starting tailback, the job held by George, the team's career leading rusher who was released last month in
a pay dispute.
Brown hit holes quickly and had a long run of 18 yards. George totaled 72 yards on 32 carries in the 2003 preseason, with his best run a 6-yarder.
Brown credited the offensive line for big holes to run through and blocking help downfield from the receivers for making it easier for him.
"It really helps my confidence that I can go out with the starting offense and help take the lead and hopefully win games," Brown said.
McNair would have been perfect if one pass hadn't bounced off the hands of Drew Bennett and into Daylon McCutcheon's arms for an interception. McNair
was 5-of-6 for 54 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown to Mason that gave the Titans a 7-0 lead on the next drive.
That was all for the NFL's co-MVP on this night.
Garcia and Kellen Winslow could have had smoother debuts with the Browns.
The Titans, who chose to go with youth on the defensive line rather than spend big bucks to keep Jevon Kearse and Robaire Smith, greeted Cleveland's
new quarterback by sacking him twice in his first three plays and forcing a quick punt on the opening drive.
Garcia was 3-of-5 for 23 yards in three series, and he set up Phil Dawson's 50-yard field goal with a 10-yard toss to Winslow on the first play of the
"We're not going to kid ourselves," Garcia said. "We need to be a much better football team. It doesn't matter that it's preseason or anything like
that. There's a lot more this team has to offer. We didn't display that tonight."
Cleveland coach Butch Davis wanted to see his Browns run the ball well, and he liked how William Green picked up 23 yards on three carries. He didn't
like a 42-yard pass interference by McCutcheon as he ran into Mason before his TD.
"We've played horrible in our pass defense. We gave up too many big plays, two pass touchdowns and a big PI, and those things are hard to overcome,"
Winslow's arrival in camp was delayed by a 12-day holdout before he signed a contract that makes him the highest paid tight end in the NFL. But he
quickly added his first penalty to his first catch.
He drew a personal foul in the second quarter for a shoving match with Titans safety Lamont Thompson and wiped out a completion by Kelly Holcomb to
Holcomb, who had eight starts last season, nearly got the Browns into the end zone. But linebacker Rocky Boiman hit Andre King before the goal line
just after he caught a pass on fourth-and-3 in the second quarter.
Titans backup quarterback Billy Volek looked just as sharp as McNair. He was 11-of-14 for 119 yards, with a 30-yard TD toss to Jake Schifino for a
14-3 lead. Undrafted rookie Vic King added a 1-yard touchdown and 42 yards on 10 carries.
Titans kicker Joe Nedney, who tore a ligament in his right, non-kicking leg in the season opener last year, had much better luck with a 44-yard field
goal at the end of the first half. The ball hit the right upright, then bounced off the crossbar and over to make it 17-3.