NASHVILLE, Tenn. >> Exhibit one: Titans wide receiver Harry Douglas.
While he was being grabbed by a defender, the eight-year veteran fought through the interference to make a touchdown catch.
Of course, the touchdown pleased Tennessee coach Mike Mularkey, but it was more than just the six points. It was the kind of effort Mularkey wants more of from his receivers.
The Titans’ wide receivers rank last in the NFL for combined receptions, according to STATS. Tennessee has 90 catches from Douglas, Kendall Wright, Justin Hunter (now on injured reserve) and rookie Dorial Green-Beckham. That’s four fewer than the next closet team, St. Louis.
Compare that to Jacksonville, Sunday’s opponent, where Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns have more catches (103) combined than all the Titans’ receivers.
Douglas said Wednesday the key is the will to go up and get the ball. No matter what.
“We grind,” Douglas said. “We’re going to be better. We’re doing things to get better. We got a young group, but like I said, I’m trying to help every way possible I can. We’re going to get there. I have 100 percent faith in them.”
The Titans (2-9) lost for the ninth time in 10 games last week when the Raiders picked off rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota not once, but twice when Tennessee had communication issues. Wright was bumped on the second and didn’t keep running his route. Also, Wright couldn’t pull in an underthrown ball down the sideline, while the 6-foot-5 Green-Beckham had a defender break up a pass to him deep down the other sideline.
“We’re not looking for Odell Beckham catches, we’re just looking for catches,” Mularkey said. “The normal catch, catches don’t have to be great if we can make some of the catches that we’re seeing on the other sideline. It’s a matter of just, if the quarterback’s trusting you to come down with it, come down with it the way we would like you to since you’ve been a receiver.”
Tight end Delanie Walker has been Mariota’s favorite target so far with a team-high 59 catches for 708 yards. Wright, who caught 94 passes for 1,079 yards in 2013 and 57 for 715 yards last season, missed three straight games with a sprained MCL in his left knee. He remains the Titans’ second-leading receiver with 30 catches for 352 yards and three touchdowns. Wright returned last week in the 24-21 loss to Oakland and played only 34 snaps.
One of the games Wright missed was Tennessee’s 19-13 loss Nov. 19 in Jacksonville.
“They use him in different ways, so definitely somebody that we’re aware of and understand that he’s an important part of their passing game,” Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said on a conference call.
Douglas and Hunter each have 22 catches, though Hunter was placed on injured reserve Nov. 17 after needing surgery for a broken right ankle. Green-Beckham is last among the receivers with 16 catches for 243 yards and two TDs, but the second-round draft pick missed most of the offseason and part of the preseason with injuries. He also spent last season on Oklahoma’s scout team.
Mularkey said the Titans need their receivers to more consistently win when being covered one-on-one and coaches also must scheme better to put them into better position as well.
“There are going to be some mismatches at some point, somewhere, for everybody. Our job is to find a way to get an advantage for our guys, and we’re trying to do that.
Notes: TE Anthony Fasano (shoulder), NT Sammie Hill (knee) and RB Dexter McCluster (right knee) did not practice Wednesday. LB Derrick Morgan (shoulder) and NT Al Woods (ankle) both were limited after not playing last week.
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