Even while the Tennessee Titans this off-season have sought to upgrade their wide receiving corps, the group is relatively inexperienced when it comes to track record and NFL statistics.
At the top of the team’s list are veteran holdover Justin Gage and newcomer Nate Washington, who comes over from Pittsburgh as a free agent signing.
Elsewhere, the group has a TOTAL of 29 NFL receptions.
Whether that makes it easier or harder for coaches to assess the group is debatable, but none can rest on their laurels. And there won’t be a spot for everybody with “pass catcher” on their resume.
CRACKING THE CORPS
Here is a rundown of what the Titans have in camp at receiver.
Justin Gage – The leader of the group and the “old man” at age 28. Gage caught 34 passes in 2008, despite being bothered by knee and hamstring problems. If he can stay healthy, he could have one of his best seasons yet as a Titan.
Nate Washington – The free-agent import caught a career-high 40 passes as the Steelers third receiver last season. The Titans believe his career is on the ascent, as they signed him to a six-year contract worth $27 million in the off-season.
Chris Davis – Make or break time for the former Florida State Seminole, whom Jeff Fisher says can still earn his way into the punt return mix. Davis has been a standout during OTAs, and must carry that over into camp and preseason.
Lavelle Hawkins – Had seven catches as a rookie in limited action. The talent is there, but he must work to overcome the concentration lapses that result in drops and missed assignments.
Paul Williams – Another guy whose time is running out. One catch in two seasons isn’t a lot to show for a third-round pick the Titans believed would develop into the big, rangy receiver they now hope Kenny Britt will be.
Kenny Britt – Speaking of Britt, the rookie from Rutgers will get as many opportunities as he can handle. He probably won’t start right away, but should be able to pick up enough to nail down a spot in the top four.
Dominique Edison – Sixth-rounder shows promise, but as a low-round rookie will have to impress to earn a spot on the 53-man roster. Practice squad would appear possible to allow him to develop.
Mark Jones – His primary role is as a kick returner. If he doesn’t hold off Davis, Ryan Mouton or Rafael Little in that regard, then he probably doesn’t stick as a receiver.
Craphonso Thorpe – Journeyman was out of the league last year, but had 12 catches for the Colts in 2007. He’s a long shot, but others like Dave Ball have bucked the odds in the past.
Dudley Guice and Phillip Morris – Undrafted rookies always have the toughest road to trying to secure a spot on the team. This year is no exception.