Tennessee Titans' Receivers Looking to Take Flight in 2009

Joseph Hawkes-BeamonContributor IAugust 4, 2009

NASHVILLE, TN - JANUARY 10:  Wide receiver Justin Gage #12 of the Tennessee Titans looks to avoid a tackle by Ray Lewis #52 of the Baltimore Ravens in the second quarter during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game on January 10, 2009 at LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The Tennessee Titans are greatly known around the NFL as a great running team with Chris Johnson and LenDale White.

But can they be a better receiving team this year?

Receiver Justin Gage expects the Titans' passing game to better in 2009.

"I definitely know we're going to be better," Gage said. "Just seeing the work we put in...and how far we've come, and just seeing the hunger in the guys, I definitely feel like we'll surpass where we were last year."

Tennessee, which finished 27th in the NFL in passing offense, could benefit from better play from their receivers.

Gage, who had 34 catches last year for a team-high 651 yards and six touchdowns, could remain on the field more, as he missed four games last year due to knee injuries. Gage is a great possession receiver who runs great routes and finds ways to get open.

Free agent pick-up Nate Washington is expected to be on the other side of Gage.

Washington, who signed with the Titans in the offseason, is a Super Bowl winner as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Washington is a deep threat that should give quarterback Kerry Collins the ability to throw the ball down the field.

"I expect us to be the unsung heroes this year," Washington said after practice Monday. "No receiver on this team really has a name out there. This year, somebody is going to take off. He's going to take all of us with him."

"I'm getting goose bumps right now just talking about it...because that's how much talent we have."

Kenny Britt, who has been slowed for much of training camp with a hamstring injury, is expected to join a Titans' receiving corp that consists of second-year pro Lavelle Hawkins and third-year pros Chris Davis and Paul Williams.

All of these receivers, with the exception of Britt, have show great promise early on in training camp.

"This is probably one of the best receiver groups we've had going into training camp since I've been here," said Gage, who has been with the Titans since 2007 after four years with the Chicago Bears. "We realize where we left off last year and feel we should definitely be in that spot this year, if not better," Gage added.

During times last year in practice drills and games, it looked like the Titans' receivers were catching hot coals. Now the receivers, including the elder statesmen Gage, say they are playing with more confidence. The guys are even showing better knowledge in offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger's offense.

"We bring different things to the table, which gives a quarterback more options," Gage said. "And the more we talk, the more we can relate to each other we both have football sense."

They both utter the same sentiment about being one of the better passing teams this season.

"That's a good goal for us," said Collins, who threw 12 touchdowns to seven interceptions last season. "We're definitely going to be improved. I don't think there's any doubt about that. I like his (Gage's) thinking, setting it high. That's what we all have to do."