TRAINING CAMP PREVIEW: RECEIVERS
In camp: Corey Davis, Rishard Matthews, Tajae Sharpe, Taywan Taylor, Michael Campanaro, Darius Jennings, Nick Williams, Jordan Veasy, Deontay Burnett, Devin Ross, Cameron Batson, Brandon Shippen.
Offseason developments: Davis was one of the stars during the early portion of offseason work, but he was limited late. Matthews, who led the group in receiving yards (795) and touchdowns (4) in 2017, was held out most the offseason. After missing last season while on Injured Reserve, Sharpe returned to action in OTAs and minicamps. The team signed Campanaro, formerly of the Ravens, and also added Williams, formerly with the Falcons. Eric Decker, who signed a one-year deal last June, was not re-signed and remains a free agent. The same goes for Eric Weems. Undrafted free agents Veasy, Ross and Burnett all had their moments during the offseason. Meanwhile, Taylor enjoyed a full offseason and made progress under the direction of the team’s new coaching staff and scheme. And Jennings, who spent time on the active roster and practice squad in 2017, had a nice spring.
In the spotlight: Davis. The fifth overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, Davis ended last season strong after dealing with a hamstring injury early in the season. He finished the year with 34 catches for 375 yards, and had two touchdown catches in the team’s season-ending playoff loss against the Patriots. Davis looked smooth during the offseason, snatching the ball out of the air with ease in traffic. He went up high to make some spectacular catches. The Titans are counting on Davis to make a big leap in Year 2.
Battle to watch: Veasy vs. Jennings vs. Ross vs. Burnett. I’ve seen plenty of players shine during offseason work, only to fizzle out when the pads come on in training camp. So a guy like Veasy, who really got my attention in May and June, needs to keep it going. But fans are going to like the looks of him. He’s 6-3, 221 pounds and he’s caught the ball well so far. He’s also a savvy route runner. Jennings has more experience than Ross, and both had their moments during offseason work. Burnett arrived with a nice resume, but he didn’t really flash until late in the offseason. He needs to come out of the gate strong in camp. The potential for Veasy to help on special teams makes him extra valuable. Can one of these guys earn a spot on the roster? Practice squad spots are also there to be had.
Keep an eye on: Campanaro. Right now, I’m banking on Davis, Matthews, Taylor and Sharpe being on the 53-man roster, and making contributions this fall, some more than others. Based on what I saw early this offseason, I think Campanaro has a chance to carve out a niche for himself on the team this fall as well. Campanaro looked good early in the offseason before suffering a setback, which forced him to the sidelines. If Campanaro (19 catches, 173 yards last year with Ravens) can stay healthy, he has a chance to contribute this fall.
Next up: Tight ends.