Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Mularkey announced today that the 5th overall pick in this year’s draft, rookie receiver Corey Davis, will miss Sunday’s game with the Seattle Seahawks after re-injuring the same hamstring that caused him to miss the entire preseason.
Davis re-injured his hamstring last week in Jacksonville.
Already thin at wide receiver, and with no Davis, look for an increased role from fellow rookies Taywan Taylor and Jonnu Smith.
In fact…their performance this week, or lack thereof, could very well determine the outcome of this potential slugfest.
Seattle’s defense has been one of the elite units in all of football the last few years, and would pose problems to Tennessee’s offense even if Davis was playing. But his big play potential in one on one situations could have at least kept them honest.
And speaking of being honest, Rishard Matthews and Eric Decker are quality NFL receivers, but neither should strike fear in the eyes of Seattle’s Legion of Boom secondary.
With Davis out the Titans can expect a heavy dose of man to man coverage on the outside…a safety to help cover Delanie Walker, and an additional man close to the line to stop the run.
That’s why Taylor and Smith play a key role this week.
While they both lack experience, Taylor and Smith are arguably the two best athletes on offense, and pose the biggest threat to make something happen with single coverage.
Last week Taylor burned Jacksonville starting cornerback A.J. Bouye for a 40 yard completion when he tried to cover him one on one. He also took a jet sweep 13 yards for a first down…outrunning several Jaguars defenders to the marker.
Taylor has shown throughout training camp and the preseason that he is more than capable of breaking a big play, and his increased reps filling in for Davis all summer allowed quarterback Marcus Mariota to gain his trust.
Rookie tight end Jonnu Smith officially introduced himself to the NFL with his first career touchdown reception last week, a 32 yard scamper on a screen pass from Mariota.
And although the play was perfectly executed, Smith didn’t need the help. He turned on the jets and outran would-be tacklers…as well as his blockers on his way to the end zone.
A potential matchup nightmare for a linebacker trying to cover him one on one in space.
Rookie cornerback Adoree’ Jackson has been electrifying as advertised so far, leading the league in punt return average after two weeks. That’s a great thing because the Seahawks’ punter has seen plenty of work this season.
Seattle’s offense has struggled mightily, scoring just one touchdown in two games while failing to get anything going on the ground.
If the Seahawks’ offensive woes continue in Nashville, then Jackson should get his fair share of opportunities to flip the field. Or better yet…take one to the house.
With Seattle’s dominant defense matching up well against Tennessee’s offensive line and starting receivers, it’s imperative for Taylor and Smith to take full advantage of every one on one opportunity they get Sunday.
This is a matchup that could be won 10-7 either way. Luckily for the Titans, they still have rookies that can win the game with a big play or two…even with their top one watching from the sidelines.