NASHVILLE – Nick Westbrook-Ikhine's 2021 season was one of growth.
The Titans receiver became more comfortable as a route runner and a pass catcher, and he was more productive than he'd ever been. Surrounded by veterans, he learned the game even more, and it showed on Sundays.
Heading into 2022, Westbrook-Ikhine wants to do even more.
And, based on all the changes around him, he may need to do more.
"It is going to be different," Westbrook-Ikhine said on Tuesday. "I feel like I was very much still in a learning role the last couple of years, and now I am going to embrace this new opportunity."
Earlier this offseason, the Titans released veteran Julio Jones, and to date the team hasn't re-signed veteran Chester Rogers. Then last week, the team traded receiver A.J. Brown to the Eagles.
Needless to say, the room looks a lot different now.
Among the new additions: Veteran Robert Woods, formerly of the Rams, signed with the team in free agency, and over the weekend the team drafted receivers Treylon Burns (Arkansas) and Kyle Phillips (UCLA).
Westbrook-Ikhine said he's already learned a few things from Woods, and he's more than willing to help the newcomers.
His biggest focus, of course, is improving his own game.
"Being consistent, but being more explosive, working on getting yards after catch, making contested catches, getting separation," Westbrook-Ikhine said of what he's working on this offseason. "Just being a complete receiver overall and most importantly continuing to gain that trust with Ryan (Tannehill) going into the season."
Westbrook-Ikhine, who joined the team as an undrafted free agent from Indiana in 2020, caught 38 passes in 2021, which ranked second on the team behind only Brown (63). He was also second on the team in receiving yards (476), and he finished second on the team in touchdown catches (4) as well.
Westbrook-Ikhine had two touchdown grabs in two games against the Colts, one touchdown against the Patriots, and another against the Texans. He had a 100-yard game in November against Houston.
Yet when he looks back at 2021, he recalled what he needs to do to get better. In 2020, Westbrook-Ikhine had just three catches for 33 yards, so his production took a big leap in Year 2.
"Being a more complete receiver, making those big-time plays that we need," Westbrook-Ikhine said of his mission for 2022. "I can look back (at last year) and think of a couple of plays that come to mind where if I make that play, the game has a totally different outcome. The first one that comes to mind is the Steelers game, catch that go ball and run under it and don't trip and fall and go score and that's a whole different ball game. Having that mentality of understanding what's needed and what I want to bring to the table this year."
On Tuesday, Westbrook-Ikhine recalled past times during his football career when he was in a position similar to the scenario he's now in with the Titans.
And, once again, he's ready to step up.
"I feel like I have been in this situation before," he said. "It's kind of funny, this kind of same cycle happened before in high school where I didn't really do much my freshman year, we had a dog at receiver my sophomore year, and then he transferred and it was like, 'Alright, you have you step up.' In college it was a similar thing, I didn't really play much my freshman year, sophomore year we had a dude, he got hurt, and I had to step up.
"So I have been in that situation before so I kind of embrace it now, knowing I have done it before and it gives me that extra confidence."