TRAINING CAMP PREVIEW: RECEIVERS
In camp (13): Julio Jones, A.J. Brown, Josh Reynolds, Cameron Batson, Dez Fitzpatrick, Racey McMath, Marcus Johnson, Cody Hollister, Chester Rogers, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, Fred Brown , Mason Kinsey, Kalija Lipscomb.
Offseason developments: Pssst… Heard the Titans traded for Julio Jones? Yes, that was the biggest news of a busy offseason for the Titans at the receiver position. Back in March, the team said goodbye to Corey Davis, who signed a big contract with the Jets. The Titans signed former Rams receiver Josh Reynolds in free agency, and the team drafted former Louisville receiver Dez Fitzpatrick in the fourth round of the NFL Draft, before picking former LSU receiver Racey McMath in the sixth round. Reynolds showed soft hands in OTAs, catching the ball with ease, and the rookies made strides. The Titans also signed Fred "Hollywood" Brown, most recently with the Broncos, while adding former Vanderbilt receiver Kalija Lipscomb after his workout in rookie minicamp. Way back in January, the team brought back Kinsey on a futures contract, and he worked this offseason with the team. The Titans, meanwhile, released receiver Adam Humphries, who signed with the Washington Football Team, and the team opted not to re-sign receiver Kalif Raymond, who ended up signing with the Lions. From an injury standpoint, receiver A.J. Brown had procedures on both knees that forced him to miss all of the offseason workouts, and Westbrook-Ikhine was also a spectator all offseason while rehabbing.
In the spotlight: Jones. A 6-foot-3, 220-pounder, Jones is a seven-time Pro Bowler who racked up 12,896 receiving yards, 848 catches, and 60 touchdowns in his 10-year career with the Falcons. He caught over 100 passes in three of his seasons, and he had at least 80 catches and 1,300 yards in every year from 2014-19, with an average of 104 receptions for 1,565 yards during that time period. Jones was slowed with an injury in 2020, but he sure looked good decked out in No.2 during his June work with the Titans. Jones is a game-changing type player, and he should be fun to watch with the Titans, beginning with the first day of training camp.
Battle to watch: Battle for 5th and 6th spots. Do the math at the receiver position and you can get to four pretty quick – Jones, Brown, Reynolds, and Fitzpatrick. Jones, Brown and Reynolds offer a lot of versatility because they can play all three spots, and they'll be used plenty. While Fitzpatrick might not be needed to make a big contribution immediately, the team wants to see him in the mix, and he closed offseason workouts with momentum. So, who will stick from the rest? And will it be on the 53-man roster, or on the practice squad? Batson adds something different, and he can help on special teams. I like the looks of McMath – he's physical, and he catches the ball well. While Westbrook-Ikhine got a lot of outside hype earlier this offseason, he's still a work in progress. Johnson and Rogers enjoyed solid offseasons in a position group that suddenly looks pretty strong with a lot of competition from top to bottom.
Keep an eye on: A.J. Brown. A second-round pick of the Titans in the 2019 NFL Draft out of Mississippi, Brown was named a Pro Bowler in 2020 after his second straight 1,000-yard season. In 14 games last season, Brown caught 70 passes for 1,075 yards and 11 touchdowns, and in his first two NFL seasons, Brown has 2,126 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns. So yes, this guy is coming into his own. With Jones and Reynolds added to the mix, Brown has a chance to take his game to another level. While Brown didn't take part in offseason work while recovering from his knee procedures, he's expected to be good to go when camp begins. And when the season begins, a healthy Brown has a chance to explode.
Next up: Defensive line.