NASHVILLE – Titans receiver Tajae Sharpe is headed into his 4th NFL season, and he’s seen plenty of changes around him.
There have been newcomers and departures, and through it all his approach has been the same: Keep working.
So when the Titans signed veteran receiver Adam Humphries in free agency, and then drafted receiver A.J. Brown in the second round of the NFL Draft, Sharpe didn’t pout and worry about his job security.
Instead, he welcomed them, and the competition.
“It is what this team needs, every team,” Sharpe said after Tuesday's OTA. “If you want to be great you have to have competition at every single position and that is what this league is about. There’s going to be new guys coming in at your position, and they are going to work hard to come in and try and play and you have to work hard to stay on the field. It is all part of this business, and you have to focus on things you have to get better at.”
Sharpe, one of the standouts of the offseason so far, does admit the new additions ramp things up a bit. He knows the Titans didn’t add Humphries and Brown to watch the returners from last year play.
“It definitely raises the sense of urgency,” Sharpe said. “Guys come in and they have a sense of urgency to want to get on the field at an early stage, and you have to work hard to stay on the field. You have to work hard on the details and the things you don’t do well you have to continue to improve on and continue to do the things that you do well.”
In 2018, Sharpe played in all 16 games, with 13 starts. He caught 26 passes for 316 yards and two touchdowns, including a seven-catch, 101-yard game against the Chargers in London. The following week he turned an ankle in pregame warmups against the Cowboys, and down the stretch his production and opportunities were more limited.
Sharpe spent the 2017 season on Injured Reserve after catching 41 passes for 522 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie in 2016.
For the record, Sharpe has been impressed by Humphries, and Brown.
“It has been great having those guys here,” he said. “Adam is a veteran guy, and he can bring a lot to the table with the leadership role, too. And A.J. is a great young talent. So we are excited and we want to work hard every day and we are going to compete. We are a group, but we are a team and we do everything for each other to make each other better.”
And Titans coach Mike Vrabel said he’s been impressed with Sharpe, who caught a pair of touchdown passes in Tuesday’s OTA.
In addition to Humphries, Brown and Sharpe, receivers Corey Davis, Taywan Taylor, Darius Jennings and Cameron Batson are among a big group of receivers catching passes from the quarterbacks in OTAs.
“He’s embraced the group,” Vrabel said of Sharpe. “You’re going to make changes every year. … He’s a long target, got a good catch radius, quarterback trusts him. So, those are all real positive things. (He) just needs to continue to work and try to improve him every day. But he’s been focused, been locked in, and doing everything that we’ve asked him to do.
“We’re going to bring guys in at every position,” Vrabel said. “It’s your job to understand that, and to withstand that, and carve out a role for yourself through practice, and eventually preseason games, and then once we determine a roster. Whether that’s Tajaé, or Taywan, I mean, you know how I feel about those guys. They come here to work every day, they work hard, and the quarterback – they’re dependable. Taywan (Taylor) helped us at times, and Tajaé (Sharpe) helped us a lot of times last year. That’s just the nature of the NFL, is that you’re going to have to stand up to competition and find a role for yourself, and carve one out through the course of time.”
Sharpe said his focus his offseason was to get back to work even earlier than in the past.
He regularly spends extra time catching passes from the JUGS machine after practices, and he’s focused even more on his work in the classroom.
The work will continue in next week's minicamp, and in training camp.
“I am just out here trying to focus on getting better every single day, just learning from any mistakes the previous day and trying to be better than I was,” Sharpe said. “Just taking to coaching and watching the film, and trying to hone in on details. That’s what we are doing as a group, trying to hone in on details. It’s all about focusing on getting better.”