As the Titans Bye Week begins, many of the team's digital and social channels will be taken over all week with content influenced and made by the players.
NASHVILLE – My new home in Tennessee really does feel like home.
Even before I was drafted by the Titans, I came to town on a pre-draft visit. I talked to coaches and other people with the team, and I got a good feel from them right out of the gate. From the start, I felt like this could be the place for me, even though I didn’t know a whole lot about the Titans. I knew about Steve McNair since he's from Mississippi, but for the most part I didn’t know a whole bunch about the team before then. Still, it just felt right.
So when the Titans ended up picking me, I was really happy because my new home was not far from where I grew up in Starkville, Mississippi, and where I played college ball at Ole Miss. And I knew from the start it was a blessing because my family would get to come watch me play.
Making things even better? My older sister, Reva, lives in Nashville, so that was huge for me. She’s 28, several years older than me, so it was nice to have her here to help me get settled in. Really, that was huge for me. When you go to a new place, you want to be around your family and she would cook me home-cooked meals, and she just made me feel like I wasn’t alone.
I was 21-years-old when I got drafted and going off to live on your own is an adjustment, different from college. Having my sister here helped, but I think me just being the way I am helped too. I am a homebody. Most 21-year-olds when they get drafted are probably in the streets, running around. But that’s not who I am, and it will never be who I am. My dad, Arthur, he doesn’t have to worry about me getting in trouble.
I am all about football. I love the game, and I want to be great. I’m always working at it. When I take a break from the game, I like to watch movies, play video games. I am really good at shooting pool, so that’s what I do when I have free time. It takes me away from the world and helps me get away. Sometimes I play some music and I shoot pool for hours.
But really, football is my life. I get really bored in the offseason. I mean really bored. Because you can work out all day, and work out a million times, but there is nothing like being in season and playing ball and doing what you love.
I was so excited to get started with the Titans. When I got drafted, I wanted to show what I was made of. I had a lot of expectations coming in, and I wanted to establish myself in training camp. Unfortunately, I couldn’t because I suffered an injury, so I had to sit down and wait, and be patient. I knew when I came back I’d have to put myself in a position to be ready, so I got the mental part of the game down, and I leaned on my teammates.
My veteran teammates, they helped me out a lot. I wouldn’t be where I am today without those guys. They helped me out with the plays and everything, kind of like big brothers.
When I finally got healthy and more comfortable, I started to feel like myself and I started playing ball and it was good to make some plays and good to start helping the team.
Ten games into my first NFL season, I think it’s gone OK as far as my expectations go. Of course, there are some plays I would like to have back, but I feel like I’ve gotten better and the second half of the season I want to take it to another level.
Along the way I feel like I’ve also grown up a lot, too, and I’ve seen the NFL is a serious business. All of us as players, we support one another and are in this together and we want to win. I’ve already seen players come and go, and I’ve seen changes.
Take quarterback Marcus Mariota, for instance. I’ve only been around him six months and I’ve grown to respect that guy so much. When we played the Broncos in Denver back in October and he was replaced in the lineup, I admit that was very hard for me. I got really emotional during the game, in fact. I think that’s why I got a pass interference penalty called on me, because I was so frustrated. I ended up throwing the guy from the Broncos to the ground and I got a penalty. I admit, I was crying during the play. And after the game, I was still emotional because me spending time with Marcus and really getting to know him, he became a brother to me. To see something like that happen to a great person, it was tough to deal with. I always tell him he’s such a pro in the way he handles himself, and I want to be like that myself.
But I understand why decisions have to be made, and as a team and as a player you have to do your job and focus on yourself and how you can do better. I have so much respect for Ryan Tannehill, too, and how he plays the game and he’s done great. And I am going to do everything I can to be the best player I can be to help him, and to help the team.
I know I’m still just a rookie, and I know right now I am laying the groundwork for my career and I want to keep getting better and better. This is just the beginning.
I want my teammates to see me work, and I want them to know how important football is to me. I feel like I can be the best receiver in this league, I really do, and that’s what I am striving for – to be the very best. And I really believe I can get there.
I mentioned my home earlier, and I know being where I am today, I have a great opportunity in the NFL. I mentioned my dad earlier, too, and he’s the one who instilled in me to work hard at a young age. He’s retired now, but he worked for the electric company and I remember his work ethic. He was a good athlete growing up. His sport was baseball, and he was really good at it. And he always pushed me to be the best I can be. I still remember him telling me at a very young age: If you are not trying to be the best, then you need to find something else to do. So I have to give my dad credit for giving me that competitive edge an pushing me, and now it is up to me.
I want to be successful in Tennessee. I want to prove the Titans made a smart move by picking me. I am trying to retire here. I know it is going to take a lot of work to reach my goals and to have the success I want to have, but without a doubt I am willing to work to make it happen. I am just getting started.