NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tre McBride learned plenty in his first NFL season.
One of the biggest lessons, however, had nothing to do with the game itself.
"Last year,'' the Titans receiver said, "I did a lot of irrational worrying about things I can't control, and that kind of messed with my game. This year, I feel confident about where I am right now. I know I can play, and I am not worried about the cuts or anything else."
"I'm a lot more comfortable," McBride said. "I'm a lot more comfortable in my skin and I'm a lot more comfortable with how to be in the NFL and I think that is translating pretty well. I am able to play a little faster and feel good about it."
A seventh-round pick out of William & Mary in the 2015 NFL Draft, McBride spent the first half of the season on the team's practice squad after being released at the end of training camp.
McBride was promoted in the second half of the season, and he played in seven games, primarily on special teams – he returned kicks (10 for 190 yards), and was used as a gunner. He forced a fumble on coverage teams.
In the second-to-last-game of the season, McBride made his first career catch against the Texans. Later in that game, he scored his first career touchdown.
The experience gave him confidence.
"Internally, I know I can play in the league,'' McBride said. "Now it is just about whenever I get the opportunities, maximizing it. I am trying to do everything I can to help. The new coaching staff, they are go-getters, and they really, really, want to win. I want to do my part to help make that happen."
McBride is fighting to get noticed at a position group with plenty of competition. Kendall Wright, Rishard Matthews, Dorial Green-Beckham, Justin Hunter, Harry Douglas and Tajae Sharpe all currently rank ahead of McBride on the unofficial depth chart, and Andrew Turzilli is also in the mix, among others.
But the competition will heat up in training camp, and some things could change.
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota has noticed McBride this offseason.
"His work ethic definitely stands out,'' Mariota said. "He is one of those guys that is always working out, trying to better his game. He is a gym rat. And I think that has helped him out on the field this year. He has made a few plays and catches and getting open against the defense."
McBride caught two passes for eight yards in 2015, with those two catches coming against the Texans. Injuries to Hunter and Wright helped get him promoted, and on the field as a rookie.
In training camp, he wants to stand out by doing everything right. A year ago, he admits he had to break some bad habits in college that slowed him down. He wants to quash any talk he did too much freelancing last year.
"I wasn't purposely defying, I just had habits from college that I wasn't able to break quick enough when I got to the NFL. But I am working really hard to do everything exactly how the coaches want them done,'' McBride said. "I had some habits I couldn't shake right away and that came with the inexperience and being uncomfortable at this level.
"I want to play in the league for a long time. I want coach (Mike) Mularkey to have success, he is a good coach. And I want to do what he asks me. He gave me my shot last year and now I feel like he has the confidence in me.
"I definitely feel like I can add some value to this team,'' McBride continued. "I am going to have to show it. I can't talk about it. I have to show it."
Titans WR Tre McBride visits Fort Campbell, telling civilians and students about his time as a military child and path to the NFL. (Photos: Brittany Selbert)
Titans Online looks at the collegiate career of William & Mary WR Tre McBride. (AP Photos)