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Titans Like What They See out of Receivers




NASHVILLE, Tenn. —** The best review of the Tennessee Titans' revamped receiving corps might come from safety Michael Griffin.

"It's a great challenge. We never had that opportunity to face the fast receivers because we'd been able to hang with a lot of our receivers. Like they always say, if you're even, you're leaving. And with Nate Washington, if he's even with you, which he is rarely because he's always leaving," Griffin said.

"It's going to be something I'm looking forward to this season to see what he can actually do on the football field."

Tennessee reached the playoffs in each of the past two seasons almost in spite of a passing offense that ranked just 27th in the NFL and produced only 176 yards passing in 2008. Tight end Bo Scaife led the team in catches, and running back Chris Johnson ranked second. The top three receivers combined for 105 catches, 20 fewer than Scaife, Johnson and tight end Alge Crumpler caught.

So the Titans got busy working on arguably the weakest area of their offense this offseason.

They signed Washington away from Pittsburgh in March with a six-year, $27 million deal and used the No. 30 pick overall on Kenny Britt of Rutgers - only the third time in the franchise's 50-year history that the team drafted a receiver in the first round. They also drafted tight end Jared Cook of South Carolina and speedy receiver Dominique Edison.

Now veteran Justin Gage, who ranked third in the NFL averaging 19.1 yards per catch and led the team with 651 yards receiving, has some company.

It has Kerry Collins quite excited.

"Obviously, Nate is a veteran guy who's just coming into his own and has a chance to make a real big impact right away, and then to get Kenny Britt with the first pick in the draft shows that we're willing to do what it takes and bring the guys into improve the passing game, which I think we need to do. I'm obviously excited about the additions," Collins said.

The Titans didn't put all their new receivers onto the field for the first time this offseason until Tuesday in a minicamp session that was closed to reporters. On Thursday, Washington was absent, meeting President Barack Obama with his old Pittsburgh teammates, and Britt was limited to some individual drills and a goal-line passing drill because of a tight right hamstring.

Collins got to watch Britt in person on Tuesday and was impressed with his size at 6-foot-3 and his speed.

"He can run, and I think he catches the ball well. He's a strong catcher. He's got strong hands. He's going to be the kind of guy I think can catch balls in traffic. Also, he has the size to be able to go up and get some of those balls," Collins said.

Britt isn't Collins' only big target now. Gage is 6-4, Edison 6-2 and Cook, who also is spending time with the receivers to learn the outside routes, is 6-5. Washington joked recently that he had been among the tallest receivers while in Pittsburgh at 6-1 and now finds himself on a team where he isn't the biggest guy on the field.

"It'll be good to have that size on the field and those guys be able to use their size," Washington said.

Has he been the target of any short jokes yet? No.

"Hopefully, I can back up my short jokes with my speed," Washington said.

But with Washington absent and Britt limited Thursday, extra work went to Chris Davis, a fourth-round pick in 2007 and a receiver forced to step up to keep a spot on this roster. Collins likes what he's seen out of a player who also offers flexibility as a returner in special teams.

"I think he's as improved as any player this spring. I think he's taken it upon himself to come out and show what he can do. He gives you a little speed and a little quickness. He's not the biggest guy in the world. He's definitely a guy with a lot of ability. If he keeps it up, he's going to be part of the mix," Collins said.

That's exactly what the Titans had hoped to see.

NOTES: LB Keith Bulluck has rejoined the team for this week's voluntary minicamps...Offensive tackle Pete Clifford tore an anterior cruciate ligament in Tuesday's closed session, and coach Jeff Fisher said Clifford will have surgery within the next 10 days or so...A couple of fights broke out, including one where tight end Matthew Mulligan and linebacker Ryan Fowler dropped their equipment and put their hands up only to back off.

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