Washington Haye looking forward to opportunity with Titans

Former Steeler Nate Washington will step into a more prominent role at wide receiver for the Titans. 
NASHVILLE, TN, March 3, 2009 — After losing All-Pro Albert Haynesworth to a record-setting contract last week, the Tennessee Titans dipped into the free agent market for two players.

The Titans signed Pittsburgh Steelers free-agent receiver Nate Washington to a six-year deal on Monday, and added former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Jovan Haye with a four-year deal.

The Titans are hopeful Washington is ready to step into a more prominent role after being third on the Steelers depth chart behind a pair of Super Bowl MVPs in Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes.

The 25-year-old Washington, who caught 40 passes for 631 yards for the Steelers last year, will be counted to replace Brandon Jones, who left for San Francisco as a free agent, and start alongside holdover Justin Gage.

"I'm ready for that opportunity and I'm ready for that responsibility to step in and be a No. 1-type receiver," Washington said.

Washington also adds much-needed speed to Tennessee's receiving corps.

"We were concerned about him as an opponent, and we're glad now to have him running down the field and catching passes for us," coach Jeff Fisher said.

Jovan Haye will add depth at defensive tackle after Tennessee lost Albert Haynesworth in free agency.
Haye is returning home in a sense, having played college football in Nashville at Vanderbilt University. He spent the past three years with Tampa Bay where his best season came in 2007 with six sacks and 68 tackles.

"He had six sacks in '07, and last year battled through a lot of injuries, and I'm sure when we get him back to 100 percent, he'll be very effective for us," Fisher said.

Haye was asked about trying to replace Haynesworth, a two-time All-Pro who signed a $100 million deal with the Washington Redskins on Friday.

"Albert was a great player, and he did great things here in Tennessee," Haye said. "I'm not coming here to try and fill his shoes. I'm just going to be me. Whatever I have to offer, I'm going to give. I don't see it as replacing Albert. You can never replace Albert. He's a big massive guy and a great football player.

"I'm just looking to make my own name, and hopefully, one day somebody else can say the same (about me)."

Fisher said he is confident that Haye will join a rotation that includes Tony Brown, Jason Jones and Kevin Vickerson, and that the group can help offset losing Haynesworth.

"We're good at the tackle position," Fisher said. "We're gonna rotate and we're not gonna drop off. You don't replace Albert, but we had interest in (Jovan) last year when we still had Albert, and if we had re-signed Albert, we still would have had interest in him."

Fisher also announced Monday that longtime Titans punter Craig Hentrich has decided to postpone his retirement plans and play the 2009 season. Hentrich, a free agent, will have to sign a new contract. He had considered retiring after having back problems for the past several season, including a pair of surgeries.

"For all intents and purposes, Craig Hentrich will be the punter for this football team again next year," Fisher said.

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