Jim Wyatt, Senior Writer/EditorTitansOnline.com
Titans general manager Jon Robinson and head coach Mike Vrabel both said they’re happy with the group of receivers scheduled to return in 2018. While that doesn’t rule out more competition being added, the Titans certainly aren’t in panic mode.
ORLANDO – The Titans haven’t addressed the receiver position in free agency, and there’s a reason.
Titans general manager Jon Robinson and head coach Mike Vrabel both said they’re happy with the group scheduled to return. While that doesn’t rule out more competition being added, the Titans certainly aren’t in panic mode.
“We certainly have to add some guys here for camp,” Robinson said. “But as far as going out and adding marquee names, we can line up and win a lot of games with the guys we’ve got.”
Veteran receiver Rishard Matthews returns, along with Corey Davis, the fifth overall pick in last year’s NFL Draft. Taywan Taylor, a third-round pick a year ago, is back, and Tajae Sharpe will return to the mix after spending last season on Injured Reserve. It followed a solid rookie year from Sharpe in 2016.Zach Pascal and Darius Jennings remain under contract, and will be in the competition.
“Traditionally, you’ll keep five or six (on the roster), and those last two spots are going to come down to what the player can do on fourth down (on special teams),” Vrabel said. “So if you have a couple of good ones, you don’t need many. If that fifth guy is a good special teams player. We are not going to play five receivers on every snap.”
Speaking at the NFL owners meetings, Robinson and Vrabel discussed the returning group. The Titans are scheduled to report for the start of the offseason program on April 9. Earlier this month, the receivers spent time in California working with quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Vrabel said he’s liked what he’s seen from the receivers on tape, and from past experience as a defensive coach with the Texans, competing against the Titans.
“I think watching the development that Corey had after coming back (from injury), and the success he had late, hopefully we can build off of that and he can build off of that,” Vrabel said. “Rishard clearly exhibits a toughness and a competitiveness on film that is exciting.“Taywan is certainly a player that has a great attitude. He’s got some speed, and has some toughness. He can run with the football. Tajae, looking back at where he was two years ago, the success that he had early in his career, we have to see where he’s at. He hasn’t played, he hasn’t been in there.
“We just have to see where we’re at with those guys.”
Matthews led all receivers with 795 receiving yards in 2017, which trailed only tight end Delanie Walker (807) in yardage total. Davis caught 34 passes for 375 yards during the regular season despite missing a good chunk of the year with a hamstring injury, and his two-touchdown game in the playoffs against the Patriots was encouraging.
Taylor caught 16 passes for 231 yards, including a 53-yard touchdown catch, and was also used in the running game and on special teams. Sharpe caught 41 passes for 522 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie. He missed last year with a foot injury, but is healthy now and set to return in 2018.
“Corey played some good football for us down the stretch there,” Robinson said. “Rishard had good production the last couple of years. Taywan showed that he has some explosive, playmaking ability — and he was good in the kicking game. And then Tajae his rookie year – he didn’t get to play last year – he was a really productive outside receivers for us.“So there’s only so many guys you can put out there to throw the ball to, not to mention our tight ends and our backs. So I feel good about those four guys, I feel good about the competition behind those guys with Pascal and Jennings.”
Vrabel will be looking for reliability and toughness from the group.
When asked about speed, he pointed to a play Matthews made last year against the Seahawks.
“Team speed is something that is important,” Vrabel said. “There is an ability, a balance between speed and size and maybe athleticism. But I think we’d always look to make sure we are getting faster at every position to be able to play and compete at this level.
“But I watched Rishard get a screen pass against Seattle, which is a fast defense, and he either ran by them or through them, and scored (on a 55-yard) touchdown. So that is encouraging.”