NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Remember me?
It's been over 20 months since Titans receiver Tajae Sharpe played in a regular season game. When he was on Injured Reserve last season, he watched games from his couch, or in street clothes at Nissan Stadium.
It was frustrating, to say the least.
"It sucked," Sharpe said. "Not being able to be out there watching, I was like a fan again. I was into the games, watching. But it was hard, having to watch and not being out there.
"And the thing that hurt me the most was having to watch the rest of the team go out there and fight every week, and I couldn't be a part it. I wanted to get back out there and compete."
Well, Sharpe is back.
A fifth-round draft pick by the Titans in 2016, Sharpe worked with the team all offseason and played in the preseason to get himself ready for his return. A foot injury sidelined Sharpe last year, after he posted an impressive rookie campaign -- 41 catches, 522 yards and two touchdowns.
He can hardly wait to take the field on Sunday in Miami.
"It is exciting, being able to kick off a new season after missing all of last year," Sharpe said. "It means everything to get back out there and compete with the guys again. It is a blessing.
"We have been working extremely hard, starting with the OTAs. We have been working our tails off and now we have to go out there and execute."
Sharpe returns to the field bigger, sturdier, and smarter – all three the result of 20 months of hard work. Sharpe's last game was the 2016 season's finale – on January 1, 2017.
Over the offseason, he spent more time in the weight room, and in the classroom. He purchased a JUGS machine, and caught passes in the back yard, back home in New Jersey.
His focus was to get bigger, and keep his weight up. As a result, he's now in the 200-pound range, at least a half-dozen pounds heavier than when he arrived as a rookie. He got there by working out, and eating better. In his mind, the extra weight should help him with his route-running, and releases off the line of scrimmage.
Titans receivers coach Rob Moore said it has also made him a better blocker.
"He's been really consistent," Moore said of Sharpe. "Tajae, he has some versatility, being able to play (a number of spots). We can move him inside, and I think he has been better in the run game than he has been in years past. I think that is due to him having more play strength now. It is showing up more on tape."
Sharpe believes extra film study has helped him develop a better understanding of the game.
Now he's ready to play again – finally.
"I am just trying to be the best version of myself I can be," Sharpe said. "And I know the other guys on the team have the same mindset, they all want to be the best version of themselves. If everyone does that then when we comes together we'll be a good team.
"I just want to come out and prove to myself every day the type of player I can be, and prove it to my teammates and coaching staff. I want to help the team."
The Tennessee Titans take the field for practice on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018 at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn)
TitansOnline.com looks back at the team's all-time series against the Miami Dolphins. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)