Countdown to training camp now sits at 33 days for the Tennessee Titans, and we continue our position preview today with the wide receivers.
Out of all of the position battles set to resume during training camp, this is by far the most intriguing to watch…for a variety of reasons.
For starters…who will come out of camp as the starters?
You would have to figure that Rishard Matthews, who led the team in targets, receiving yards, and touchdowns last season has the upper hand for one starting spot.
It’s the other starting spot that will have Titans fans talking throughout the preseason.
Last year’s “other” starter, rookie fifth round pick Tajae Sharpe, has his work cut out for him to retain that spot this year.
A tumultuous offseason that included an alleged assault on draft day and a foot injury that caused him to miss part of camp has the second year receiver out of Massachusetts fighting an uphill battle.
And there are plenty of players looking to pounce, starting with rookie Corey Davis.
Tennessee selected Davis fifth overall, and conventional wisdom would suggest that the Titans would like for him to win the job outright with that sort of investment.
After being held back early in camp while nursing an injury, Davis came on late and looked very impressive to close OTAs.
If that wasn’t enough to get Sharpe’s attention, then the recent acquisition of veteran free agent Eric Decker sure did.
General manager Jon Robinson signed the former Broncos and Jets receiver to a team-friendly one year deal, and he will step on the practice field as the most experienced and productive of all the receivers.
If Decker is fully recovered from his season-ending injury from a year ago then he should/ will get every opportunity to state his claim for the other starting spot.
That brings us to the slot receiver position, one in which Sharpe has no guarantees either.
Tennessee also selected receiver Taywan Taylor with the first of it’s two third round picks, and on paper he is faster and more athletic than Sharpe.
Route running and familiarity with the playbook gives Sharpe the advantage in this head to head battle, however, we have yet to see Taylor perform with pads on in an intensified practice environment. Something that Sharpe excelled in during last year’s training camp.
Harry Douglas and Tre McBride are still on the roster, for now, and would need to have a lights out training camp to secure one of the last roster spots.
Few teams used a three wide receiver set less than the Titans last season, meaning that snaps for receivers could come at a premium.
The bright side? Every receiver on the roster will have to put their best foot forward in order to get meaningful reps, and the competition should bring out the best in all of them.
Two years ago the Titans only kept four receivers on the active roster. Now they will have that many battling for starter reps.
Just another example of culture change in Tennessee. Just another example of the great job that Robinson is doing re-shaping the roster in such a short time.
Buckle up ladies and gentlemen, this one should be fun.
Next up…the tight ends.