We continue our preseason trip around the Titans position by position with a look at the wide receiver group.
It’s been over six months since Drexel examined the receiving group before free agency, and not much has changed. That’s actually very good news, as we learned yesterday Kenny Britt wouldn’t be facing any discipline from the league. Health permitting, he’ll starting every game and presumably lead the team in targets, receptions, yards, and touchdowns. Unfortunately, health has been a problem for him again this year as his hamstring has kept him out of the three preseason games thus far. Mike Munchak said at a press conference today he’ll play Thursday against the Saints, but he may still be limited against the Jaguars in two weeks.
Nate Washington will be the starter opposite Britt. He had a nice game against the Bears after a quiet first two games. Chances he develops into a lead wideout are slim, but if Britt’s in he should be a solid veteran number two wideout.
Beyond the top two, if Britt is healthy, is still a series of question marks. Damian Williams is likely to be the third wide receiver. The Bears game looked to me like his big tryout to play at the ‘X’ or split end position, and he didn’t rise to the challenge. Rather, like Washington, he’ll play the ‘Y’ or ‘Z’, as a flanker or slot receiver.
Justin Gage didn’t play against the Bears, and hasn’t played a big role in the offense this preseason. I think he’s the only natural split end on the roster other than Britt. His $3.5 million salary might be an issue, though, but I think he makes the team because of other guy’s failings.
Lavelle Hawkins may or may not do anything. He mostly disappeared after the start of last season, as Damian Williams took over his role and he wasn’t a very good special teams player. I doubt he makes the team.
Kevin Curtis was just added to the position. I think his signing is a damning reflection on what the team thinks of Hawkins and the undrafted wide receivers. He’ll play Thursday agaisnt the Saints, and I think he has a very good shot at making the roster.
Marc Mariani is a return specialist, but the big question was how much he’d play as a wide receiver. I think he’ll see a little bit of time if they only dress four wide receivers in a given game, but he hasn’t gotten much playing time in this preseason. Keep your eye on him for the future more than this year.
James Kirkendoll, Michael Preston, and Owen Spencer, it’s been fun seeing you guys around this preseason. I’d be happy to see Kirkendoll on the practice squad once he clears waivers, but none of you are making the team. Sorry, nothing personal.
I’m fairly satisfied with the Titans’ top three, and a fourth that can be useful. If injuries don’t strike the position group, it should be pretty solid. Note also Jared Cook will spend some time playing what effectively amounts to wideout, but we’ll talk about him with the other tight ends. If they can find a little more/better depth, wide receiver should be a much stronger position than it has been for the past several years.
Yamon Figurs… I don’t really know what they’re doing giving Figurs as much playing time as he’s had. He’s a return specialist, which is a role more than ably filled by Mariani, and his NFL history shows he offers very little as a receiver against first-team defenses.