Receiver hopes big catch a step toward catching on with Titans

Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 10:51pm

Just when it looked as if Yamon Figurs really had his foot in the door to the NFL, he broke it.

The wide receiver out of Kansas State broke in with the Baltimore Ravens in 2007 and made an immediate impact as a return man. Then the injury occurred prior to his third NFL season and it has had him kicking around the league ever since.

“I ain’t frustrated or anything like that,” he said. “I just love the game of football. But I want to stay somewhere too.

“I’m just trying to get somewhere and stay there.”

In the two seasons since the Ravens waived him he has played for four different teams – Tampa Bay and Detroit in 2009, and Oakland and Cleveland last season.

The Tennessee Titans signed him to a futures contract in January, before coach Jeff Fisher was fired and replaced by Mike Munchak.

“I wasn’t worried,” he said. “I just stayed in the playbook while I trained and had a good offseason so I could just come prepared to play.”

Presumably, the Titans signed him as protection in the event that Marc Mariani gets hurt during the preseason. The coaching change, therefore, did nothing to alter his value to them.

Figurs and Mariani have similar backgrounds. As a rookie, the former became the first Ravens player to return both a punt and a kickoff for a touchdown in the same season. Mariani accomplished the same feat last season for Tennessee as he earned a Pro Bowl invitation as the AFC return specialist.

While Mariani has yet to register his first reception in a regular-season contests, Figurs has caught five passes in 34 career appearances and at an average of more than 20 yards per reception

He flashed some of that same big-play ability Saturday with a 45-yard touchdown catch in the Titans’ preseason victory over Minnesota.

“He made a big play and he’s very fast,” starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said. “He’s kind of one of those guys you’d like to hit on a deep route if you could.

“… You just have to get lucky and have your number called and get opportunities. He’s off to a good start. That was big. Then when you make a play you get more plays. They find ways to get you the ball.”

That would be just fine with Figurs.

“Returns are an important part of the game but I love playing receiver, so that’s what I’m going for now,” Figurs said. “That was a good feeling [Saturday]. A touchdown is always a good feeling.”

It certainly gave him a leg to stand on in his quest to make the team out of training camp.

The broken foot, the right one, no longer is a factor. A titanium screw was placed in it to stabilize the bone shortly after he sustained the injury.

“I don’t even know it’s there anymore,” he said. “It was more a mental thing, getting a titanium screw put in your foot and getting ready to run as fast as you can again so I didn’t hurt it again.”

Now the goal is simply to stay in one place for an extended period.

“I just have to keep working hard and get in the right place, the right spot at the right time,” he said.

Briefly

• Backup tackle Troy Kroprog is out for a couple weeks after minor knee surgery Tuesday. Munchak said the 2009 fourth-round draft pick had battled pain in the joint since the start of training camp.

Another tackle, Mike Otto, left the workout with a shoulder injury and was evaluated afterward.

Linebacker Barrett Ruud (shoulder), tight end Daniel Graham (ankle), running back Javon Ringer (hip), tackle David Stewart (hamstring), Nick Schommer (hamstring) and Sen’Derrick Marks (shoulder) all missed the workout.

Wide receiver Lavell Hawkins was excused for personal reasons and was expected back for Wednesday’s session.