Who will step up?
The Titans’ receiving corps was in terrible shape in 2005. It consisted of only two returning veterans and three rookies to start the season.
Two years later things look just as bleak. The top two receivers from last year, Drew Bennett and Bobby Wade, are gone. The third-best receiver last year has been unimpressive this summer, being outperformed by several other uninspiring receivers. The most talented receiver, David Givens, is still rehabbing knee injuries that will keep him sidelined for most, if not all, of this season.
In a nutshell, it’s hard to imagine any of the receivers improving their game and giving Vince Young a reliable target. If the Titans hope to have success passing the ball, they’d better be counting on someone stepping up. Or they should hope to get their production from the tight ends, who have problems of their own.
New receivers coach Fred Graves is the man who will have to work miracles to get the following players to produce.
Brandon Jones, the third most productive receiver last year, caught 27 balls. He’s the only returning receiver with double-digit receptions last year. The best of the three receivers drafted in 2005, he hasn’t done anything this offseason to upgrade his game.
Courtney Roby, the first of those three receivers to be drafted, has never seemed quite the same since sustaining foot and toe injuries from a horse-collar tackle in his second NFL game. He had only two receptions last year.
The other member of the trio, Roydell Williams, has also had nagging injuries and has not been a force to be reckoned with. He’s the proud possessor of eight catches in 2006.
Free agent acquisition Justin Gage, who caught four passes for the Bears last year, is the other experienced receiver.
Jonathan Orr, a sixth-round draft pick last year, never saw the field, being placed on the gameday inactive list for all 16 games. He has just as much experience as the three rookie receivers drafted this year.
The three rookies, Paul Williams, Chris Davis and Joel Filani will all have a good chance to make the team.
First-year man Clinton Solomon and undrafted free agent rookie Biren Ealy are the other receivers who will compete for a job in training camp.
The Titans normally keep six receivers on the 53-man roster, but don’t think for a minute that the receiving corps will be made up entirely from the players on the roster now. As receivers are released by other teams later this summer, they’ll all be considered by the Titans. I’m especially interested to see what happens with the Patriots’ receivers. There will probably be a couple of good ones released in New England, which is overstaffed at the position. The Titans will almost surely claim a veteran from some team during cutdowns.
I don’t expect Givens to be among those on the active roster, at least for the start of the season. He’ll probably be placed on either the PUP (physically unable to perform) or the IR (injured reserve) list.