Titans' Wide Receivers Face Tight Competition

Eric ListerContributor IMay 27, 2009

NASHVILLE, TN - MAY 1: Kenny Britt #18 of the Tennessee Titans during the Tennessee Titans Minicamp on May 1, 2009 at Baptist Sports Park in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images)

A new training camp season for the Titans brings a similar storyline: an open battle at the wide receiver position. This is the one position from which the Titans need more production and improved consistency.


They have the top two wide receiver positions filled with returning starter Justin Gage and free agent signee Nate Washington, who spent the 2008 season with the Pittsburgh Steelers.


Gage, who led the team with 651 yards and six touchdowns, is the top receiver on the team. Washington totaled 631 yards for the Super Bowl Champion Steelers last season.


The Titans have been known to keep seven receivers on their roster entering the regular season, but this year may be different with an emphasis on a running game that will feature a duel-back system with Chris Johnson and LenDale White.


Entering the 2009 training camp, the Titans will have nine players competing for four open spots.


Players returning from last year include Lavelle Hawkins, Chris Davis, and Paul Williams. All three players saw playing time last year, but none of them achieved more than 100 yards.


The Titans will need more production from these three returning players if the passing game wants to see improvement. Expect at least one player from that list to be cut before the season begins.


Lavelle Hawkins and Chris Davis both have return experience, which will help them in their battle for a roster spot. Hawkins returned kicks last year when Chris Carr was injured, and Davis filled in with punt return duties when needed.


Paul Williams, the third-round draft pick in 2007 is the one player that has not yet reached his full potential and is under the microscope of the coaches. Look for him to be the one that is cut first of the three just because he lacks other skills like kick return ability, something the other two do have.


Kenny Britt, the Titans 2009 first-round draft pick, will enter training camp with a lot of pressure to perform like he did with Rutgers.


With the money invested in him because of draft position, he will most likely be guaranteed a roster spot for at least this year, but don't assume anything, the Titans will be focused on production, not loyalty.


Other players on the training camp roster include Mark Jones, Dudley Guice, Phillip Morris, Dominique Edison, and Craphonso Thorpe. One of these free agents will make an impact on the practice squad, but only one will see significant playing time if history holds true.


Biren Ealy made the squad the last two years as an undrafted free agent, but it isn't an easy path.


With a limited number of open spots, the competition is fierce.


Since Offensive Coordinator Mike Heimerdinger is now in his second year, he will demand improvement from the wide receiver position. The position will also see more competition because of the departure of two key veterans.


Brandon Jones and Justin McCareins are no longer on the team, and Roydell Williams could not find a way back from his injury last season. With three top receivers no longer on the squad, the competition is wide open.