Craig Stevens proved Sunday that there is a difference between practice and preparation.
The fact that he did not have a lot of practice time in certain passing situations did not mean he was not prepared for them when fellow Tennessee Titans tight end Jared Cook was injured.
“He got put in some situations where he hasn’t even practiced in a while because Cook usually takes all those reps in practice, Munchak said. “He did a nice job. He’s one of those guys who just does his job quietly. He made some big catches for us and blocked well.”
Stevens caught five passes for 63 yards in the Titans’ 44-41 overtime victory over the Detroit Lions. That not only was a personal best for receptions in a game it was more than twice as many as he had in all of 2012. His previous single-game high was three, in a December 2010 game against Indianapolis.
All but one of those receptions came after Cook was forced to the sideline by a shoulder injury.
“We hear that a lot, that Craig’s a blocker first, but he seems to make big play after big play in the passing game,” quarterback Jake Locker said. “We’ve always looked at him as tight end that be both a weapon in the passing game and the running game, and I think we’ve been able to use him effectively that way.”
Perhaps, but it is no secret that Cook is the primary option among tight ends when it comes to the passing game.
Currently he is second to Nate Washington with 164 receiving yards and his 11 receptions are tied for second with Damian Williams. His 759 receiving yards (on 49 receptions) last season were nine short of Frank Wycheck’s franchise record for a tight end.
Stevens, now in his fifth NFL season, has 28 receptions for his career. He needs just five over the next 13 contests to break his single-season high of 11.
He got a significant amount of practice time Wednesday because Cook sat out the workout. The situation was not likely to change before Friday, at the earliest.
“Cook, I think, is feeling better,” Munchak said. “A lot of his motion is pretty much back, so we thought he’d do some drills tomorrow and maybe by Friday, start taking reps.”
• Wide receiver Kenny Britt, like Cook, failed to finish the Lions game and sat out Wednesday’s workout. He injured an ankle during the contest.
“Obviously [an ankle injury] is a little more [of an issue] because of the running and playing receiver,” Munchak said. “We’ll have to see how he does the next couple of days.”
• Middle linebacker Colin McCarthy, who missed the last two games as well as the second half of the opener with an ankle injury still has not been cleared to resume practicing, but he has increased his activity.
“We were hoping he was able to do more [Wednesday],” Munchak said. “He was out doing individual drills. He’s obviously running now. Now it’s just a matter of how quickly his ankle responds to being on the hard surface, being on the ground and cutting and those kinds of things.
“We’ll see how he is [Thursday] after what he did [Wednesday] and then see how much more he can do. It’s still a work in progress.”