Solid start for Titans

  By Wes Holtsclaw
  star staff
  wholtsclaw@starhq.com
  NASHVILLE -- There wasn't an early lap around the Coliseum by a starting tailback Saturday night and the number 27 jerseys were barely a fixture.
  It was fitting that Chris Brown officially rushed in the 'After Eddie' era for the Tennessee Titans.
  Replacing one of the franchise's most familiar faces in current Dallas Cowboy tailback Eddie George, Brown rushed for 46 yards on six carries -- one of the highlights of the Titans' first preseason outing, against the Cleveland Browns.
  The Titans racked 17 points in the first half and opened the third quarter with a 60-yard touchdown drive for a 24-3 victory over their former division rivals before another sell-out crowd beside the Cumberland River.
  "I was pleased with the starters' performance. We're going to have to look at the tape and correct a few things," said Tennessee head coach Jeff Fisher. "We threw well and we ran it well. That's really a credit to the offensive line. The receivers have to go up and make tough catches when you put it up and that's what they did."
  Last year's NFL co-MVP Steve McNair followed an interception-plagued first drive with a 90-yard drive cumulating with a 21-yard scoring strike to Derrick Mason to complete his first snaps of the 2004 season.
  McNair's back-up, Billy Volek, threw for 119 yards in an 11-of-14 effort with a 30-yard second quarter scoring strike to Jake Schfino before leaving late in the third quarter.
  "We looked pretty strong in both the passing and running game," said McNair. "We didn't need that interception, but you're going to get those sometimes on tipped balls. The offensive line opened good holes and did a great job protecting me. We still have a long ways to go, but we have three preseason games to get there."
  Joe Nedney booted a 44-yard field goal to give the Titans a 17-3 edge at the end of the opening half. Cleveland's lone score came at the beginning of the second quarter when Phil Dawson split the uprights from 50 yards out.
  Tennessee got its final score at the top of the third quarter when Vick King capped a 60-yard drive with a one-yard splash for paydirt.
  As for the Browns, aside from not getting into the end zone, its biggest problem was penalties. The squad raked up 130 penalty yards before the start of the fourth quarter.
  The Browns debut of former San Francisco 49er quarterback Jeff Garcia wasn't too impressive, while former Miami Hurricane tight end Kellen Winslow II displayed his collegiate attitude that may very well hit the highlights this weekend.
  Garcia was outdone by last year's Cleveland starter Kelly Holcomb in the first half. Garcia threw for a mere 23 yards on a three-of-five outing with three sacks, while Holcomb finished with 94 yards on an 8-of-12 performance.
  "You expect that from Kelly," said Cleveland coach Butch Davis. "He's a veteran and he's playing with a good supporting cast. We just need to get the ball in the end zone."
  Winslow made one grab for ten yards but got excited after he was ran over by Titans defensive lineman Mark Word, offering a quick handshake.
  It only took two more plays to get the league's highest paid tight end in trouble, as Winslow was hit with a personal foul penalty after starting an altercation.
  Aside from Brown's solid performance, former New England Patriot Antowain Smith gained 18 yards on four carries for Tennessee.
  Their battle for the top running back slot will continue, but for now the edge goes to Brown.
  "He looked good and had some good runs tonight," said McNair. "We're hoping for more of that, but overall he did a good job."
  "I got out there and felt the flow which helped me get into a rhythm," said Brown. "My offensive line opened good holes and our receivers blocked downfield, which helped make it easier for me."
  The Titans will next visit Buffalo next Saturday before a trip to the lone star state when they meet the Dallas Cowboys on Monday, Aug. 30th.
  Notes: Each of the inactive Titans during Saturday's battle are prominent defensive players on the team. Among the eight roster scratches were cornerbacks Samari Rolle and Tony Beckham, linebacker Peter Sirmon and defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth.
  ...Titans defensive back Andre Dyson had to leave the field in the first half after straining his left quadriceps. His immediate playing status is unknown.
  ...Another son of an NFL Hall of Famer, former Miami tailback Jarrett Payton, turned some heads with some solid gains in the fourth quarter in his battle for a Tennessee roster position.
  ...Former Tennessee Volunteer Troy Fleming caught two balls for 12 yards in his pro debut.