The decision to use first-round draft picks on a wide receiver twice in four years was unprecedented in Tennessee Titans’ history.
If Sunday’s 44-41 overtime victory over the Detroit Lions is any indication, quarterback Jake Locker, a first-round choice in his own right, plans to take full advantage of it.
More than half of his career-high 42 throws went to Kenny Britt, the 2009 top choice, and Kendall Wright, this year’s number-one. Both were targeted 11 times.
Wright finished with a team-high seven receptions for 41 yards. Britt caught six passes for 45 yards.
“I think you want to see your top guys make catches and make plays,” coach Mike Munchak said. “That’s why we brought them here. That’s why we drafted them. … Hopefully that group can be together for a long time.
“That’s why we were excited about Kendall in the draft, we felt he could come in and help us this year. We mentioned that quite a few times, that’s what made the decision to pick him.”
Through three games, Wright, the 20th overall pick in April, leads Tennessee with 14 catches. His longest gain, though, is just 17 yards and his average per reception is 7.3, which is second worst among the 40 players who, through Sunday, had at least that many receptions.
In two games back from reconstructive knee surgery and a league suspension, Britt has seven receptions for 60 yards.
“Kenny … is still getting familiar with the offense,” Munchak said. “This offense he learned last year in training camp and he’s only play a couple games in it and hasn’t played with Jake before. So there’s a long way to go in that relationship, I would think.”
Together, Britt and Wright represent half of all wide receivers the franchise ever has drafted in the first round. The other two were Haywood Jeffires (1987) and Kevin Dyson (1998).
Locker, of course, was selected eighth overall in 2011. Plus, running back Chris Johnson preceded Britt as the first choice in 2008.
The last time the franchise used three first-round picks over a span of four years on offense was in 1995 (quarterback Steve McNair), 1996 (running back Eddie George) and 1998 (Dyson). All three of those players were instrumental to the team’s run to Super Bowl XXXIV following the 1999 season.
• Mr. Takeaway: Tennessee has forced just two turnovers through the first three weeks of the season. At the same point last season the defense had four interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
Cornerback Alterraun Verner certainly has done his part.
Verner was credited with a forced fumble and a fumble recovery when he took the ball from tight end Brandon Pettigrew and went 72 yards for a touchdown that put the Titans up 41-27 with 1:16 to play in regulation.
He accounted for the only other forced turnover, an interception at San Diego, which he returned 11 yards. Plus, he had an interception against the Lions negated by a roughing the passer penalty.
“I tried before that play to get the ball out on numerous occasions, but it just didn’t work out,” Verner said of the fumble and return. “I was just fortunate enough to get at that certain time in that point of the game to try to help us get a win.”
The 2010 fourth-round draft pick had three interceptions, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery as a rookie but had just one interception last season.
• Injury update: Munchak said he expects tight end Jared Cook to play Sunday at Houston.
The tight end sustained an injury to his left shoulder in the second quarter against Detroit and did not return.
“To not be there for those guys when I wanted to, it was tough man,” Cook said after the contest. “It’s in a little bit of pain, but I’ll be all right.”
Britt was unable to finish the game after he “tweaked” his ankle in the second half. His situation also was not immediately considered serious.
• Briefly: Nate Washington has caught a touchdown pass in five of his last seven games, including two of three this season. He has caught 21 touchdown passes in 51 games with Tennessee after having caught just 12 in 49 games with Pittsburgh. … Locker’s streak of consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass is now six, which includes at least one in all three starts of his career. … After a 16-14 loss at Jacksonville in the 2011 opener, the Titans have won their last three in games decided by three points or fewer.