Nate Washington has caught more passes through two games than at any time of in his career. He just has not caught the attention of many people, not with Kenny Britt on the other side of the Tennessee Titans offense.
Washington tied his career-high with seven receptions last Sunday against Baltimore and his 13 catches thus far are the most he’s had in consecutive weeks at any time during his seven-year career.
“Nate’s here too and Nate’s a guy that doesn’t get talked about nearly as much as Kenny,” quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said. “But he’s very polished. He knows what’s going on. He’s savvy.
“He’s a guy who’s had a few catches — I think he could have more. It’s just his number hasn’t been called quite as much.”
It’s been called a lot more than at any time during his previous two seasons with the Titans or any of the preceding four with the Pittsburgh Steelers, for that matter.
Last season, Washington had seven catches through two games, which was the best start of his career up to that point. He has nearly doubled that this time.
His season-high for receptions in a game during the 2010 season was five, a number he has bested in each of his two outings in 2011.
“This is Week 2,” he said. “Through the last couple years of my career, I acknowledge that one of the most questioned things about me was my consistency. I want to continue this throughout the whole year. … You have to continue to build and I’m excited about the opportunity I have.”
If the 28-year-old can maintain his current pace (6.5 receptions and 83 yards per game), he will set career-highs for catches and yards before the 10th game of the season.
His 13 receptions have him tied for 14th in the league and are just one fewer than Britt. The only other teams with two players who have at least that many are the New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys — two offenses traditionally renowned for their passing prowess.
Tennessee has finished 23rd or worse in passing each of the previous five seasons. Currently it ranks seventh.
“Since I got here my rookie year, I wanted a deep threat at receiver and things like that,” running back Chris Johnson said. “This year coming in I got Kenny Britt and Nate Washington making plays out there on the outside so I got what I really asked for.”
Britt shook off soreness in his hamstring, which limited him at practice Wednesday, and made it through the entire workout Thursday without issue. Johnson also practiced Thursday after having sat out a day earlier with a rib injury.
Thus, it appears the Titans will have their full complement of playmakers available for Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos (noon, LP Field).
“I think it’s exciting to know that you have a lot of ways to win games [and] you are not so one-dimensional when you go into a game,” coach Mike Munchak said. “… I think that everyone gets excited on the offensive side of the ball knowing that we have a lot of guys that can make plays.”
Washington, who has not missed a game since he signed with Tennessee as a free agent in 2009, does not disagree.
“It gives you a little pick-up,” he said. “These guys have told me from Day One that I was needed in this offense and I was going to be a guy that they looked to to make plays for them. It just wasn’t talk.
“They are really showing me — the coaching staff, the quarterbacks — that I’m going to be a valuable part of this offense and it feels good. It makes me work a little harder day in and day out knowing that every single day they’re going to look to me to be a guy to make plays for them.”
The fact that he’s not the only one, or even the most well-known one doesn’t bother him in the least.
“This is what we expected of Kenny and of myself,” Washington said. “We both came into this organization at the same time. … We understand our situation. We’re two amazing receivers. We just have to continue to complement each other and continue to work.
“…No matter how many good blocks you may have had, no matter how many routes you may have opened up for the other guy, it’s all about you catching the ball. We’ve been doing a good job so far.”