Rookie TE Chig Okonkwo Making Early Strides With Titans

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NASHVILLE – From the first day Chig Okonkwo walked in the door at Saint Thomas Sports Park, he looked the part.

The former Maryland tight end, selected in the fourth round of the NFL Draft, is a physical specimen, listed at 6-foot-3, 238 pounds. Okonkwo can also run – he once ran a 4.44 in the 40 while training for the combine.

A few months into his new job, however, Okonkwo feels like he's made progress aside from the physical part of the game.

"I think I have progressed a ton, especially when it comes to other things," Okonkwo said as the team wrapped up minicamp last week. "You have to learn, you have to think, you have to see fronts, you have to be able to know the plays. … In that aspect, I think I've grown a ton since I've been here."

Along the way, Okonkwo has also made a lot of plays.

In the team's minicamp alone, Okonkwo caught three touchdowns in the red zone on Day 1, and followed it up with a touchdown grab on Day 2 of minicamp.

"Chig's done a great job for us," Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. "He's made some big strides this spring. I'm proud of the way he's come in, learned what to do, and we'll continue to push him on that. But just physically, to see his size, his strength, his speed, how he's able to play through contact, he definitely gives us another weapon."

Okonkwo, taken with the 143rd overall pick of the draft, arrived in Tennessee with some impressive credentials.

At Maryland, Okonkwo started all 13 games for the Terrapins in 2021 and he finished second on the team with 52 receptions for 447 yards with a team-best five touchdowns. Okonkwo had the second most receptions by a tight end in program history in 2021.

Titans offensive coordinator Todd Downing said the team put a lot on Okonkwo's plate early, and he's eaten it up.

"We've asked him to do a lot," Downing said. "We've thrown a lot at him. I think he's handled it well. I think he's hungry and eager to please. There are obviously some new roles and some assignments that we've given him. Those are always going to come with a little bit of a learning curve. But I think he's doing a nice job with it."

Titans tight ends coach Luke Steckel said the team is keeping Okonkwo in check, however.

Okonkwo has spent extra time in individual drills working on his blocking, an area he knows is important with the Titans.

"I think he'll be the first to tell you there's still a lot to learn, there's a lot to improve on," Steckel said. "But he's shown some glimpses, some flashes of some of the things he can do, and that certainly gets us excited."

Okonkwo plans to keep working to get himself ready for camp.

In the weeks leading up to camp, he plans to spend a lot of time in the heat in Georgia, he said.

This week he's scheduled to attend George Kittle's Tight End University in Nashville, along with fellow Titans tight end Austin Hooper.

It's just a part of his developmental process.

"Oh man, that's going to be a great experience for me, just getting to see like literally the best tight ends in the league and getting to pick their brain for three days and just learn what they do, what they're looking at in the passing game and in the run game," Okonkwo said. "I definitely feel like that's going to be a little quick getaway for me to learn a lot of football."

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