TRAINING CAMP PREVIEW: RECEIVERS
In camp: Kendall Wright
, Rishard Matthews
, Dorial Green-Beckham
, Andre Johnson, Harry Douglas
, Justin Hunter
, Tre McBride
, Tajae Sharpe
, Andrew Turzilli
, Ben Roberts
, Reece Horn
The Titans agreed to terms on Friday with veteran receiver Andre Johnson, a seven-time Pro Bowler. He should provide veteran leadership, and he'll get a chance to earn playing time this fall. The team signed Matthews, formerly with the Dolphins, back on March 9. The team drafted Sharpe in the fifth round of the NFL Draft. Hunter worked his way back from last season’s ankle injury, and practiced all but one day with the team in OTAs and minicamp. After dealing with a hamstring injury early in the offseason, Green-Beckham took part in all the OTAs and minicamp. Sharpe settled in nicely from the start, and practiced with the first team at the end of the offseason work. Wright worked primarily in the slot, and he had a solid offseason. Coach Mike Mularkey challenged the entire group throughout the offseason, and is expecting the receivers to return in better shape at the start of training camp.
In the spotlight: Dorial Green-Beckham. The Titans drafted Green-Beckham to be a game-changer, and he had his moments in 2015. Green-Beckham finished the year with more catches (32), yards (549) and touchdowns (4) than six of the seven receivers selected in front of him, with the lone exception being Oakland’s Amari Cooper, the fourth overall pick of the draft. The Titans now need DGB to step up and be more consistent in his second NFL season. Green-Beckham dropped some weight from last season, but he’s one of the receivers who needs to return to Nashville in better shape. At the end of June’s minicamp, Green-Beckham vowed to be ready.
Battle to watch:
Douglas vs. Hunter vs. McBride. The expectation is Wright, Matthews, Green-Beckman and Sharpe are safe on the 53-man roster, so that’s four. How many receivers the team keeps remains to be seen, and plenty depends on how much they can contribute on special teams. Douglas is a veteran who’s a good influence on the younger players, and quarterback Marcus Mariota
trusts him. Douglas played under Mularkey and OC Terry Robiskie in Atlanta, so he’s very familiar with the offense. Hunter has plenty of upside, but he’s failed to make a consistent impact and has been challenged once again. Now, he’s on the spot, headed into the final year of his contract. Will he step up in camp? McBride has made strides since last season, and looks more comfortable. Turzilli is a talented prospect, but keep in mind a four-game suspension is looming at the start.
Keep an eye on: Sharpe. A product of Massachusetts, Sharpe impressed coaches and teammates with his route-running this offseason. He established himself as one of the better route runners on the team in just a few months, and he consistently caught the ball as well. It’s why he was lining up with the first team at the end of the offseason. How will Sharpe hold up when the pads come on? That’s the big question as he prepares for his first NFL training camp. He’ll be tested. If he can perform well, he’ll contend for significant playing time as a rookie. But the Titans hope some veterans will rise to the occasion and challenge him.
Tomorrow: Tight ends.