The Texans hope to contain the NFL rushing leader in Chris Johnson on Monday night.
After a bye week, the Texans (5-4) return to action on Monday Night Football to host the Tennessee Titans (3-6) at Reliant Stadium. The Week 11 matchup is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. CT kickoff.
Head coach Jeff Fisher and the Titans are on a roll, winners of three straight, with their latest victory coming in Week 10 at home against Buffalo. They throttled the Bills 41-17, scoring 24 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to break open a 17-17 ballgame.
OFFENSE Quarterback: Vince Young was inserted into the starting lineup three games ago against the Jaguars. He's been victorious ever since, guiding the Titans to victories over the Jaguars at home, at San Francisco and in Tennessee last weekend over Buffalo.
Against the Bills, Young connected on 17-of-25 pass attempts for 210 yards, tossing a touchdown and an interception. This season, he has completed 65.7 percent of his passes and thrown for 507 yards, two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions.
Kerry Collins is the backup after struggling mightily in the season's first six games, all of which were losses. He was picked off at least once in every one of those contests, and in Weeks 5 and 6, he failed to throw a touchdown pass. In all, Collins completed 54.8 percent of his passes and threw five scores and eight interceptions.
This season has been a stark contrast to last season for Collins, who led the franchise to a 13-3 record and passed for better than 2,600 yards after appearing in a combined 10 games as a backup the previous two seasons. Collins tossed 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions last season, starting 15 games and appearing in all 16.
Running back: Chris Johnson leads the NFL in rushing with 1,091 yards and is averaging 6.4 yards per carry. He's carried for eight touchdowns and exploded in Week 10 against the Bills, gaining 132 yards on the ground and another 100 receiving. He has fumbled just once, losing it in a Week 4 loss at Jacksonville. Johnson leads the team with 30 receptions as well.
Against the Texans in Week 2, Johnson ran 16 times for 197 yards and a pair of scores. He also caught nine balls for 97 yards and a touchdown.
Last season with the Titans, the rookie running back rumbled for 1,228 yards, the third-best total in the AFC. Johnson averaged 4.9 yards a carry, which was tops in the conference and fourth-best the NFL. He also finished second on the team with 43 receptions for 260 yards, giving him a total of 1,488 scrimmage yards. Johnson ran for nine touchdowns and caught another touchdown pass as well.
LenDale White's 2009 season has been a tough one, as he has run the ball 59 times for just 204 yards and a solitary touchdown. Against Buffalo, he amassed six yards on three carries. When he squared off against the Texans in Week 2, he picked up 25 yards on six carries.
White barreled in for 15 touchdowns in 2008, more than doubling his two-year career total of seven. The former USC Trojan averaged 3.9 yards a carry and finished with 773 yards last season.
Wide receiver: Yardage-wise, Kenny Britt leads the way for the Tennessee wide receivers with 351 yards on 22 catches. He has yet to snare a touchdown, but last week against the Bills, he caught a pair of passes for 55 yards. When he faced the Texans earlier this year, he finished with 22 yards on two receptions. He's averaging 16 yards per reception in 2009.
With 302 yards on 22 catches, Justin Gage is second on the squad in receiving yardage. It was a particularly productive Week 10 for Gage, who caught four passes for 97 yards. The lone touchdown he scored was in a Week 1 loss at Pittsburgh. In 2008, Gage played in 12 games and led the Titans with 651 receiving yards and a career-high six touchdown receptions. His 34 receptions ranked fourth on the team.
Nate Washington was acquired in the offseason from Pittsburgh and made his regular-season Titans debut at the home of his former team, collecting one reception for eight yards. Since then, he's caught five touchdowns, which is best in the Titans' receiving corps. He's also tops among Tennessee receivers with 25 catches.
Last year with the NFL champion Steelers, Washington set career highs with 40 catches and 631 receiving yards, while also scoring three touchdowns.
Tight end: Bo Scaife starts at tight end and has 20 receptions for 181 yards. He didn't play against the Texans in Week 2 and only caught a pair of passes for 16 yards in the win over Buffalo.
In 2008, Scaife led the Titans and set a career high with 58 receptions for 561 yards and two touchdowns. Scaife injured his knee at Pittsburgh, so keep an eye on his status as the week progresses.
Scaife is backed up by Alge Crumpler, who has 18 receptions for 141 yards. In 2008, he ranked sixth on the team with 24 receptions for 257 yards and one touchdown. In Atlanta, Crumpler became the franchise's all-time leader among tight ends in career receptions (316) and career touchdown receptions (35) and was selected to four Pro Bowls.
Offensive line: The Titans have one of the strongest offensive lines in the NFL with Pro Bowl left tackle Michael Roos, left guard Eugene Amano, center Kevin Mawae, right guard Jake Scott and right tackle David Stewart.
They've paved the way for a rushing attack that averages 5.3 yards per carry, and they've done a solid job protecting the quarterback, allowing just seven sacks on the season.
The group performed at a high level last year, allowing the team's offense to ascend several leaderboards. The Titans set a new franchise benchmark in sacks allowed and tied for the league lead yielding only 12 sacks. Previously, the lowest sack total given up by the Titans in a 16-game season (since 1978) was 17 in 1978. Also in 2008, the line helped the Titans finish the regular season in the league's top 10 in rushing for the third consecutive season. Tennessee's 24 total rushing touchdowns ranked second in the league behind only the Carolina Panthers (30).
DEFENSE Defensive line: William Hayes' four sacks are tops on the team, and the left defensive end has 30 total tackles, four of which have been for a loss. He's also forced a pair of fumbles. Hayes picked up three tackles in the Week 2 contest against Houston. The second-year defender from Winston-Salem State has been an integral part of the Titans defense after playing in just eight games during his 2008 rookie season.
Defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch is the other starter on the edge, and so far this season he's gotten to the quarterback just once for a sack. He also has tallied 27 total tackles and forced a fumble. During the 2008 regular season, the two-time Pro Bowler was limited to playing in 10 games due to a groin injury. His season totals included 46 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 18 quarterback pressures, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Defensive tackle Tony Brown has a pair of sacks and two forced fumbles to go along with his 18 total stops. He is in his fifth NFL season.
Also starting inside on the defensive front is Jovan Haye, who picked up three of his 19 tackles in 2009 during the game against the Texans.
The Titans' defensive line includes three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jevon Kearse, who in 2008 was the team's only defensive lineman to start all 16 games. This season, however, he hasn't played since Week 4 and only has registered a trio of tackles.
Linebacker: Keith Bulluck continues to lead the way for the Tennessee defense, and is first on the team in total tackles with 79. He was active in Week 2 versus the Texans, picking up 10 stops. His lone interception of the year came during a Week 5 loss to the Colts, when he picked off a pass and returned it 23 yards. Against the Bills last Sunday, he led the team with 12 total stops.
The 2008 season was the seventh consecutive in which Bulluck started every game and surpassed 100 tackles. He is the third player in team history to reach 1,000 career tackles. During the 2008 regular season, Bulluck led the team with 120 tackles. It was the sixth time in seven seasons as a full-time starter that Bulluck led the squad.
David Thornton has 41 total tackles—two of which were for a loss—to go with a forced fumble and a sack. All six of his stops in the Week 2 matchup with the Texans were of the solo variety. In 2008, he started 15 games and tied for third on the team with 93 tackles.
Stephen Tulloch has 70 total tackles, and seven came against the Texans in Week 2. This is his first year as the incumbent starter at middle linebacker. A core special teams performer in his first two NFL seasons, Tulloch earned a career-high 12 starts in 2008 and ranked second on the team with 98 tackles.
Secondary: Cornerback Nick Harper has been inactive the last four games but was steady through the first five contests, as he amassed 38 total tackles, with nine coming versus the Texans. In 2008, he played in 13 games and contributed 80 tackles (sixth on team), two interceptions (fourth), 17 passes defensed (second) and one forced fumble. His tackles in 2008 matched his 2007 total for the second-highest sum of his career.
Pro Bowl cornerback Cortland Finnegan squared off against Andre Johnson in Week 2 and finished with four tackles against the All-Pro wide receiver. He's picked off three passes on the season and returned one for a score. He didn't play in Weeks 4, 5 and 6.
In 2008, Finnegan started all 16 regular season games for the second consecutive year and tied for sixth in the NFL (tied for fourth in AFC) with a career-high five interceptions.
Pro Bowl free safety Michael Griffin has 44 total tackles this year, but tallied just two of those against the Texans. Griffin also has forced two fumbles in 2009. Last season, he led the team with seven interceptions, a total that tied for the 11th-best figure in team history and ranked second in the NFL behind only Baltimore's Ed Reed (nine).
Pro Bowl strong safety Chris Hope has picked off a pair of passes this year, and has also tallied 51 total tackles. He finished with five total stops versus the Texans in Week 2. In 2008, he started every game and recorded four interceptions (tied for eighth in the AFC) and 93 tackles (tied for third on team).
Rob Bironas has made 14-of-17 field goals and is a perfect 19-for-19 in PAT attempts this season, good for 61 points. Brett Kern, meanwhile, has punted 12 times for a 44.1-yard average. Kern has played the last three games for the Titans, after spending the first six games of 2009 with the Denver Broncos.
The Titans have used a kick return by committee approach in 2009, but RB Alvin Pearman has returned all punts and kickoffs the past two weeks in wins over Buffalo and San Francisco. He's been good for 13.3 yards per punt return, and 21.8 yards on kickoffs.