NFL notes: Titans make Smith starter
Rusty Smith showed up for work bright and early Monday morning, and the Tennessee quarterback hasn’t left the building much since.
That’s because the sixth-round draft pick from Florida Atlantic is about to become the first rookie quarterback from Jacksonville to start in the NFL, not Tim Tebow – who also went to the same big church back home as Smith.
Smith will start Sunday in Houston against the Texans (4-6) with Vince Young on injured reserve and needing surgery on his right thumb, and with veteran Kerry Collins recovering from a strained left calf.
Collins doesn’t think anyone has to worry about the 6-foot-5, 226-pound Smith being prepared.
“He’s a starting quarterback,” Collins said. “There’s pressure, but that’s when you’ve just got to focus on what you need to do. I think everybody will see that he’s ready to play.”
• Tennessee offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger is back at work and will call the plays Sunday when the Titans visit Houston before starting his treatment for cancer.
Coach Jeff Fisher said that Heimerdinger met with his doctors Wednesday night and will start his treatment Monday.
Around the league
Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis was placed on injured reserve because of a torn muscle in his lower abdomen. The Redskins have also ruled out safety LaRon Landry (left Achilles tendon) and running back Ryan Torain (hamstring) for Sunday’s game again the Minnesota Vikings. … Terrence McGee missed practice one day after aggravating a knee injury, leaving the Buffalo Bills cornerback questionable to play against the Pittsburgh Steelers this weekend. … Receiver Roddy White and defensive end John Abraham returned to practice for the Atlanta Falcons, but did not fully participate in the two-hour session. … San Diego Chargers star tight end Antonio Gates was in pain as he tried to practice in a limited role. Gates has been absent the last two games because of a torn plantar fascia in his right foot.