On Now
Coming Up
  • Mon., Apr. 23, 2018 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM CDT Live Draft Preview Press Conference Watch Live as GM Jon Robinson and Head Coach Mike Vrabel preview the 2018 NFL Draft, live from Titans Headquarters at Saint Thomas Sports Park.

    Monday, April 23 | 1:00 pm CT



Ask Mike: Will Justin Hunter's Role Expand

Posted Sep 25, 2013

Josh Lewin is the San Diego Chargers’ radio announcer. Josh is an outstanding broadcaster; you’ve probably seen him do a game on national TV at some point in time. He is regarded as one of the finest in the business.  

Titans rookie Justin Hunter comes down with the game-winning catch against Chargers CB Crezdon Butler. See a slideshow from the game.

I had a chance to visit with him before last Sunday’s game. As we compared some notes on injuries and lineups, he mentioned the Chargers’ newest addition, journeyman cornerback Crezdon Butler. Butler joined the team last week and was likely going to be pressed into service against the Titans because the San Diego secondary was thin.

Lewin shook his head at that possibility. “I’ve never even met Crezdon Butler,” he said, making the point through his remark that it was hard to believe that the Chargers might have to use Butler after he had been with the team just four full days.

It was Butler who was beaten by Justin Hunter for the game-winning touchdown.

Some weeks, your team is playing a guy that it just signed. Other weeks, it is your opponent in that fix. That’s the nature of the NFL.

The key to that is that when you have that advantage, you must take full advantage.

The Titans did that. And they are 2-1 instead of 1-2.

Lots of questions this week about Kenny Britt and Justin Hunter. A couple of examples…

Zeke in Hendersonville: “Are we going to see Justin (Hunter) start at (Kenny) Britt's wide receiver spot? We haven't seen much of him, but that game-winning touchdown really set the tone of what kind of player he truly is. I am sure all of us would like to see more of what he is capable of doing.”

Dan in Bowling Green, Ky.: “Is it pretty much a given that after the Chargers game that (Kenny) Britt is on his way out. I know that 1 catch doesn't mean (Justin) Hunter is ready to be a number one (receiver) but it looks as though we can get along just fine without him.”

MIKE KEITH: The Titans are committed to bringing Justin Hunter along slowly. They know that Hunter probably is not ready to be a down-in, down-out player. He has much to learn and must get stronger. He has to become more physical. His work ethic has pleased people a great deal. I will stay with what I have said of him all along: Justin Hunter will be put in a position to help the 2013 Titans in spots and then will have a chance to blossom as a star in 2014 and beyond. The Titans have some receivers with physical gifts, but I don’t know if they have one with the upside of Hunter. Look for him to play more as the season’s goes on, but likely not as a full-time guy. Not yet, at least.

Personally, it’s hard to discuss Kenny Britt for me. He is one of my all-time favorite people that I have covered. Not just as a player, but as a person.  

Most anyone that meets Britt gets why I would say that; he’s very engaging, very funny and good to everyone that he meets. He is a Titans Caravan favorite. Kids love him. Older people love him. His coaches and teammates love him.

Kenny Britt is far from a jerk. But…

Some of his off-field decisions have often been — and this is charitable — foolish. His on-field play during camp and so far this season has been uneven. His rationale in tweeting some of his feelings has been — in my opinion — misguided.   

Now, he is at the crossroads. Year five in the career of a first-round pick. Two years removed from a big knee surgery. A contract year. Playing for a team that needs production and performance now. 

This week’s game against the Jets’ physical defense could be a good opportunity. Games like Sunday are times when an offense needs a Kenny Britt to make plays. A receiver must find a way to win when battling the Jets. It will not be easy.  

The time is now.  I spoke with Kenny this week and he gets it. He understands that when his next chance comes, he must make the most  of it.

And if Britt does not play as much, the beneficiary for now might be Damian Williams more than Justin Hunter. Williams has not had many chances, but don’t be shocked if he makes some things happen if the ball comes his way more.

Nathan in Silver Springs, Md.: “It's pretty amazing looking back at training camp and thinking that there was even a question of (Alterraun) Verner losing his starting job. I'd argue that he's been even better than (Jason) McCourty so far this year. He may not be physically gifted in the way someone like Tommie Campbell is, but he's got football instincts and smarts that could rival anyone. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Verner's contract is up this year. Do you think the Titans will resign him? I know they drafted(Blidi) Wreh-Wilson to take over one of the starting spots, but you can't deny that Verner can flat out play. It would seem a shame to simply let him walk.”

MIKE KEITH: Nathan, you are correct that Verner is in the last year of his deal. And you are correct that he has played super football here in September. I can’t say that Wreh-Wilson was drafted to take over one of the spots because the Titans are going to draft a cornerback within the first four rounds almost every season. You can never have enough corners. As for Verner, the key for him will be showing that he can play a whole season in this style of coverage. But no question about it: so far, so good for one of the most popular Titans.

Donald from Erie, Pa., wants to know: “Is there a throwback uniform game this year and when? Love those Oilers uniforms!”

MIKE KEITH: The Titans will be breaking out their navy blue jerseys for San Francisco (October 20) and Jacksonville (November 10). No Oilers jerseys, however — that was a 2009 only event for the 50th Anniversary of the franchise.

Click here to submit a question to Mike Keith!

Recent Videos

Recent Photos