INDIANAPOLIS — In many ways the wide receiver position has been a black hole for the Tennessee Titans.
For years, Coach Jeff Fisher and his assistants would point out that rookie receivers take time to develop, saying that even Derrick Mason need three seasons to hit his stride, as they made plenty of middle to late-round picks hoping to hit on another unpolished gem like that.
But very few draft picks met expectations since the team moved to Tennessee, and free agent pick ups from Yancey Thigpen to Carl Pickens to more recently David Givens never worked out well either.
However, it appears that the Titans got one right last year here at the Combine and on draft day, plucking Rutgers’ Kenny Britt with the 30th overall pick.
Britt operated as the third receiver for the Titans most of his rookie year, but made six starts thanks to injuries to Nate Washington early and Justin Gage in midseason. He finished with 42 catches, the most by a Titans rookie receiver since Earnest Givins caught 61 passes his rookie year for the old run-and-shoot Houston Oilers. He also led the Titans with 701 yards receiving.
Fisher expounded upon the Titans hope for Britt here at this year’s Combine.
“Kenny was thrown in the fire early because of a hamstring injury with Nate and he got to play in the opener and he was productive,” Fisher said. “We felt like he would be able to do that because of the system he came from we’d seen him run routes, and I think he has so much ahead of him because of some of the things we saw in run after catch and the big play in the end zone in the Arizona game.
“So I think you’ll see a lot more from him this year, but we were pleased with the production we got and he consistency week in and week out. The length of the season and the preseason games can take their toll on a younger player and I thought Kenny managed it very well.”
Britt even has Fisher changing his tune when it comes to talking about the difficulties of young receivers breaking into the NFL.
“I think of all the positions, that is probably one of the positions where you can play early, but there are always going to be exceptions,” Fisher said. “Some guys struggle with concepts and adjusting and things like that but the league has been fortunate and has taken advantage of the talent that has been out there and that has been the case with the Colts [Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon] and us with Kenny. They joined clubs that needs young players to play, and we put him out there and he was productive.”
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