NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Dorial Green-Beckham took the challenge from his coaching staff to heart.
After interim coach Mike Mularkey made it clear last week he wanted to see his rookie receiver be more physical as a blocker, Green-Beckham responded against the Saints. He drew praise after the game with some nice blocks downfield.
But it was another receiver who got the most attention for a block in the team's 34-28 overtime win. Justin Hunter delivered a big block downfield on tight end Delanie Walker's 61-yard touchdown catch when he sent a Saints defensive back flying.
"Justin has been talking about it since the game got over -- he is probably still talking about it now, honestly,'' Green-Beckham said with a smile. "It was a great block. Justin had a touchdown, too. He made some great plays."
Hunter smiled himself, but said he hasn't necessarily been tooting own horn.
"I haven't said anything about it -- people have been coming to me asking me about it,'' Hunter said. "They've been saying, "You're hitting people now, huh?" Coach Mularkey said he's seen it once, and he wants to see it all the time now."
The solid performances from the team's two young receivers was among the nice developments in Sunday's win. The players say they push one another, and it makes them better.
In addition to his blocking, Green-Beckham caught five passes for 77 yards in the contest. Hunter also had three catches for 17 yards, including an eight-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter, which was followed by a two-point conversion to tie the game at 28-28.
With Kendall Wright a question mark once again for Sunday's game against the Panthers – he missed Sunday's game in New Orleans with a knee injury – the Titans will need both players once again.
Mularkey said the team pulled some things back leading up to the game in New Orleans to make things easier on Green-Beckham.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said on a conference call on Wednesday that Green-Beckham is a challenge to defend.
"He's a gifted athlete that's got good size,'' Rivera said. "He runs well, he's got good hands, he's a big target…We've got to be able to contain a guy like him. But first of all, we've got to be able to get after the quarterback and make it tough on them. So we'll see how it goes."
Both players said their confidence level is up.
"You get confidence from playing good, it builds up some things and it takes off,'' Hunter said. "I am just taking it day by day in practice, trying to have the best practices I can."
Green-Beckham said his teammates have encouraged him to keep it going.
On the season, Green-Beckham has 12 catches for 181 yards and two touchdowns. Hunter has 18 catches for 217 yards and a touchdown.
"It does help me, helps me a lot,'' Green-Beckham said of his performance. "Everybody sees what I am capable of doing, blocking also…They are going to want me to do the same thing week after week.
"(My teammates) have been very encouraging, telling me I shook off the rust. Hearing that, it means a lot, those are the guys that I need to get the respect from, but I know I have to stay humble and stay focused."