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Clock control a major reason for Titans' success

>Question: After Monday night, it looks like it's the Titans' turn to come up with a stinker. This week? Or will they wait to let the Colts beat them?

-- Dave Meinzer, Buffalo.

A: The Titans are one of the more consistent teams in the NFL under coach Jeff Fisher. The reasons are they have a clear-cut identity and play a fundamentally sound style. Fisher's teams play smash-mouth defense, control the clock and limit turnovers.

This week the Titans are coming off a bye. They're facing a Kansas City team quarterbacked by Brodie Croyle. I don't see a toe-stubbing. I like the Titans this week. There's no way, however, they get through the next five games without a loss. Those are: Indianapolis, Green Bay, at Chicago, at Jacksonville, at home against the Jets.

The Titans have won the time of possession in 12 out of Fisher's 13 seasons. They have been in the top half of the league in rushing 10 of the past 12 seasons. They're most susceptible to a clunker when they're playing a high-powered offense. Their bad losses the past three years have been to Cincinnati, San Diego, Dallas, Jacksonville, New England, Pittsburgh and Indy.

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Q: What is the Chargers' recent record playing at 1 p.m. in the East?

-- Roger Harrison, Orlando, Fla.

A: The Chargers are the exception to the "rule" that West Coast teams struggle coming East. San Diego is 46-18 overall (.718) the past four years. Over that span, they are 8-4 (.666) in 1 p.m. East Coast games, when their body clocks are at 10 a.m.

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>Q: Why isn't the second-string QB taking more reps with the first-team offense and being prepared to play in the event the starter goes down?

-- Larry Welch, Tobyhanna Army Depot, Northeast, Pa.

A: Every team does it the same way. They have so many plays they need to run to install the game plan, they have to give the No. 1 all the work he can get. Teams practice about 2 hours, 15 minutes on Wednesdays and Thursdays. That counts segments geared toward the starting defense and the special teams. An offense runs roughly 35 to 40 plays in a practice.

"You can't get to the second guy," says offensive coordinator Turk Schonert. "You give him a couple snaps and that's about it. He's got to be able to go in and do it. There were weeks and weeks and weeks that I went without getting any snaps. It's your job. You don't make any excuses. You go out and get it done."

Why don't teams just practice three hours? They don't want to keep the players on the field too long.

"You play the game on Sunday, not Wednesday and Thursday," Schonert said. "You prepare, but you can't wear them out. I've seen that happen. I've seen teams go into Sunday with dead legs."

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>Q: How much money would the Bills have saved by getting rid of John McCargo?

-- Alex Ruiz, New York.

A: Players taken lower in the first round don't make as much money as people think. McCargo, the 26th pick in 2006, got a deal worth $1.48 million a year. He's making a base salary of $572,500 this year, and he got a $50,000 workout bonus in the offseason. He's due to make $835,000 next year and $685,000 in 2010.

Question Mark, the weekly feature in which Bills beat reporter Mark Gaughan answers your football questions, appears in Football Friday each week. Send your questions, with name and hometown, by mail to Question Mark, The Buffalo News Sports Department, One News Plaza, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, NY 14240 or send an e-mail to mgaughan@buffnews.com.

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