With Vince Young in limbo and Kerry Collins out with an injury, the Tennessee Titans will likely head into their most critical stretch of the season with rookie Rusty Smith as their starting quarterback.
Smith, a sixth-round pick from Florida Atlantic, had never thrown a pass in a regular season game before Sunday when he finished up for Young.
Now, he apparently will be the starter when the Titans travel to Houston on Sunday to face the Texans in a game where the loser will occupy the AFC South cellar.
Titans coach Jeff Fisher indicated that Young is no longer his starting quarterback after the QB left the stadium without speaking to reporters on Sunday. Additionally, Fisher indicated Young might need surgery on his injured right (throwing) thumb.
The Titans are expected to sign quarterback Chris Simms, and the team could also add a rookie quarterback to the practice squad.
Smith completed three of nine passes for 62 yards with one interception on Sunday. Smith had a 36-yard touchdown pass to Randy Moss nullified by an offensive pass interference call on Moss.
“I definitely have a long way to go," Smith said. "I think I did make a couple of good decisions, a couple of good throws, but way too many mistakes for me to be successful."
Offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger said Smith did about what he expected.
“He did well. He did not great, but about what I thought he'd do," Heimerdinger said. "He made some good reads, and he made some reads where we said, 'Why are you doing that?' Overall, the ball was going in the right spot. He missed a couple of things, but he was a little fast - which I knew he would be. We'll just find out what he can do.”
As for bringing in help, Simms will be the first choice.
"It's up to the personnel guys, but it would be a lot easier to get a guy in here that knows how to call the play, rather than learning the offense, because we're going to work with Rusty," Heimerdinger said.
As for how much longer Collins will be out, the veteran said he is trying to get back as soon as he can.
"I've made a lot of progress up to this point," Collins said. "Hopefully, I'll continue to make a lot of progress. Like I said, I'm going to do everything I can to get back out there."