White disciplined, sits out Titans preseason opener

Clearly, the lofty expectations that the Tennessee Titans have for second-round tailback LenDale White do not include great expectorations.

The former Southern California standout did not dress for the Titans' preseason opener on Saturday night, and admitted afterward that his absence was a disciplinary move by coach Jeff Fisher for allegedly spitting at a teammate during practice last week.

"I wanted to be out there to compete [on Saturday]," White told The Tennessean of Nashville, after he was forced to watch the game from the sidelines. "But I understand what's going on. I look forward to next week against the Denver Broncos, and from there we can keep it going."

White, whose lottery stock plummeted because of poor workouts and a strained hamstring that limited his activity before the draft, was involved in a training camp fracas on Thursday when he allegedly spit on safety Donnie Nickey at the end of a play. That ignited a short brawl between the two.

Fisher originally cited Nickey for being too aggressive for a practice session, then apologized to the three-year veteran after the incident was explained to him. The Titans' coach said that he does not expect such conduct to be repeated by White.

White has missed some time in training camp because of injuries, but is still highly regarded by the staff, and is battling veteran tailbacks Chris Brown, Travis Henry and Jarrett Payton for playing time. Brown has asked to be traded. The feeling is that, in time, White, if he can stay healthy, will emerge as the top back on the Titans' roster.

Part of the dynamic Trojans tailback tandem that also included Reggie Bush, who played in Saturday's game for the Saints, White is a power-type tailback with great running instincts. In three college seasons, he rushed for 3,159 yards and 52 touchdowns. But his conditioning came into question before the draft and, because of a partially torn hamstring and weight issues, scouts weren't able to get a 40-yard time on him.

Originally projected as a first-round prospect, White wasn't chosen until the 13th pick in the second round.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click hereInsider.