Thanks to a thumb injury (and the fallout surrounding it) Vince Young's season has ended prematurely. To make matters worse, Kerry Collins is also unavailable as he continues his recovery from a leg injury suffered against the Dolphins a couple of weeks ago.
With the two veteran signal-callers sidelined, the seemingly far-fetched opportunity for 2010 6th round draft choice Rusty Smith to get snaps as the Titans' #1 quarterback has presented itself.
Let's take a look at what we should expect from Rusty as he assumes the role of starting QB over the next few weeks.
The possibility of Rusty Smith becoming a Tennessee Titan was a thought that I suggested in a pre-draft article regarding whether or not the team would draft a quarterback. Here's what I wrote:
Smith put up a ton of stats during his career at FAU. Unfortunately, a shoulder injury last year caused Smith to participate in only seven games in 2009.
Rusty has good size (6'5" 224) and has already received some interest from the Titans. Not only was the team present at his Pro Day on March 4th, but Smith was also scheduled for a recent visit in order to take a physical and conduct further interviews with the Titans' brass.
Don't be surprised if you hear Smith's name called as one of the Titans' final selections on the final day of the draft.
After the Titans selected Rusty in the 6th round of April's draft, Total Titans co-author Andrew Strickert penned a piece regarding legendary college coach Howard Schnellenberger's lofty praise for Smith, suggesting that the Titans' new QB had the potential to be as good as the likes of Jim Kelly, Vinnie Testaverde and Bernie Kosar; a trio of talented signal-callers who attained success during their long NFL careers.
Thanks to the aforementioned Vince Young thumb injury, Rusty's NFL debut took place on Sunday at LP Field. Thrown into the fire of a close game with an outcome that wouldn't be determined until overtime, Rusty entered the game firing, completing a touchdown strike to Randy Moss that unfortunately, was nullified due to a pass-inteference penalty.
Rusty finished the contest completing only 3 of his 9 passes for 62 yards and an INT.
I definitely saw a few positives from Rusty in his NFL debut. He's a fearless guy with a strong arm who isn't afraid to challenge the defense. Unfortunately, he's lacking in the department of accuracy. Rusty has the mentality of a gunslinger but at this point in his career, he's anything but a marksman.
It certainly doesn't hurt Rusty's chances of playing well with an all-world running back a.k.a. Chris Johnson in the backfield, so I'm expecting a lot of action from CJ over the course of the next couple of weeks.
Smith definitely has a heck of a challenge in front of him, due to being thrown into the teeth of a playoff race. The Titans, unbelievably, are only one game out of the division lead and with five of their six remaining games against fellow AFC South competitors, if they can pull things together, they still have a chance of making the playoffs (I'll admit, thoughts of a postgame Jim Mora Sr. rant immediately come to mind).
What are your expectations for Rusty as he attempts to manage the fort until Kerry Collins gets healthy?