|Tennessee needs receivers to show consistency|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 12 August 2008 14:16|
And dropped it.
Biren Ealy had no defender near him as he jumped into the air for the ball. But his left foot came down on the line, wiping out a big gain.
Finding help for quarterback Vince Young in the passing game was a big focus for Tennessee this offseason for a team that had only nine touchdown passes in 2007.
With a week left in training camp and three exhibition games remaining in the preseason, the Titans' challenge is finding receivers who can be consistent and prove they can play as well in games as on the practice field.
Coach Jeff Fisher doesn't sound worried - yet. Asked about the mistakes in last weekend's 34-13 exhibition win over St. Louis , he said young players make mistakes, which aren't limited to the receivers. Playing special teams in addition to offense can be tiring.
``I think that's the explanation for a couple of the mistakes. But we'll try to keep them fresh this week so that they can be full speed and fresh and hopefully see them make some plays,'' Fisher said.
If the season started now, the starting receivers likely would be veteran Justin McCareins, who came back as a free agent to the team that drafted him in 2001, and Justin Gage, who signed a multiyear deal in the offseason after catching a career-high 55 passes for 750 yards last season for Tennessee.
Brandon Jones has been working with the first-team offense as the slot receiver, while Roydell Williams, who started 14 games last season, has only been off the physically unable to perform list for the past week coming off a broken right ankle.
But Tennessee lost patience with Mike Williams and cut him on July 31.
The Titans also have a handful of young receivers pushing for playing time led by Paul Williams, a third-round draft pick last year who didn't dress for a single game; undrafted free agent Biren Ealy, a 6-foot-3 Houston native who played four games in 2007 with the rest of the season on the practice squad; and fourth-round pick Lavelle Hawkins out of California.
Tennessee kept seven receivers last season, but usually dresses only five during the regular season.
Friday night's exhibition game with Oakland could help firm up the Titans' top receivers. McCareins is expected to play after missing the first 10 days of August with tight hamstrings, and Young is expected to play more than two series after throwing only six passes against St. Louis.
Gage is confident that all of the receivers' hard work through the offseason will be seen in the offense because they heard all the criticism that the Titans didn't do enough to find Young a top quality pass catcher.
``We really have a chip on our shoulder going out there, and we want to prove to everybody we can play at this high level and we can make some plays for Vince and take some pressure off him,'' Gage said.