The receiver position has been an area of concern going into the last few seasons for the Titans. That lead to the drafting of wide receiver Kenny Britt with the first round pick in 2009 in the hope of finally finding a true number one receiver the team has been lacking since Derrick Mason left for Baltimore.
Britt, now in his second season will look to improve on his 42 receptions for 701 yards and three scores from a year ago. He will pair with Nate Washington, also in his second season with the Titans, and sixth overall after coming over from Pittsburgh as a free-agent prior to last season as the teams starting wide-outs.
Britt (6-3, 218) is the big receiver, but came into OTA’s overweight and out of shape, disappointing coach Jeff Fisher and causing Britt to be held out of team drills to work on conditioning. Washington (6-1, 185) is the speed receiver that Fisher, and offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger hope will help the offense develop a home run threat in the passing game.
The second set includes Justin Gage (6-4, 212) a big receiver and free agent signee from Chicago now in his fourth season with the Titans and is a dependable possession receiver and should get his share of chances after recording 28 receptions for 383 yards and 3 touchdowns while only playing in twelve games because of injuries.
Lavelle Hawkins (5-11, 190), the third year pro from the University of California is listed with Gage on the second team, but Hawkins must have a good camp to not only hold that second team position, but to possibly remain on the roster. Hawkins has been a player who has flashed potential but has yet to preform up to the level needed to get him regularly into the rotation. Hawkins and Heimerdinger have also had their moments over Hawkins a times not knowing his assignments.
Hawkins isn’t alone in that position. Paul Williams (6-1, 205) a former second round pick, in his third season and Dominique Edison (6-2, 204) in his second year have a combined 1 reception for 7 yards and no touchdowns. Edison has great speed (4.36) but has not been able to find his way onto the field.
Both players and Hawkins, will be pushed by rookies for the last four spots on the roster as usually there are only seven receiver kept but Fisher and staff.
Damian Williams (6-1, 197) the teams third round selection looks to be in good shape for one of those spots, as he is considered to be a very polished route runner, with deceptive speed (4.52, 40) and great hands. His punt return abilities, which was a big part of the decision to draft him also mean that he will be a tough out from the roster.
Fellow rookie Marc Mariani (6-1, 190) was a surprise selection in the seventh round (222 overall) but his 4.48 time at the Montana Pro-Day along with his ability as a punt and kick returner make him an interesting player, and one to watch when camp begins.
Undrafted free agent Phillip Morris (6-3, 175) in his second training camp out of South Carolina along with fellow undrafted rookies Mico McSwain (6-0, 208) from Ole Miss and Bobby Sewall (6-0, 197) from Brown finish the receivers who will be in camp.
Britt, Washington, Gage and Damian Williams are solid and only need to avoid injury and have decent camps to retain there spots.
Hawkins and Mariani also seen safe, however both could play their way off the roster with a bad performance in camp.
While those six players look to be leading for roster spots that leaves just one spot for Edison, Paul Williams, McSwain and Sewall to earn.
Williams and Edison, both draft selection will have an advantage because of that, and their time and practice experience with the team but could well be pushed, and it would not be a surprise if neither player remains on the roster, though Edison is my pick to fill the seventh, and final spot because of his size and speed that caused the Titans to draft him in the sixth round in 2009 from Stephen F. Austin.
There is also the possibility that another receiver, not currently on the roster might be brought in after the first rounds of cuts are made.
For those who attend camp and watch position battles, this one won’t be that interesting but could well become a strength and nice compliment to the running game in 2010, if Britt and Washington live up to their potential, and others develop to add depth to this position.