Receiver Adam Humphries, one of the Tennessee Titans’ major free agency acquisitions during the offseason, had a big night during the team’s preseason opener on Thursday. He played just one drive, but that was enough for him to make a lot of good things happen.
Humphries has been having a really solid Training Camp so far, frequently showing off his quality route-running and his ability to change directions quickly. On Thursday, he translated the success from the practice field to game day.
Here are three things that Humphries’ big night proved.
1. Marcus Mariota is comfortable with him.
Though big-time targets Corey Davis and Delanie Walker were sitting out on Thursday, Humphries’ volume proved that Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota has a lot of trust in him.
Seemingly every time Mariota took a snap, he looked right to Humphries. Twice on third downs, Mariota went his way for successful conversions.
In just the short drive that he played, one that ended in a turnover on downs, Humphries caught 4 passes for 24 yards. He was targeted 6 times.
The first ten practices of Training Camp made it clear that Humphries and Mariota already have a lot of chemistry, and Thursday night was confirmation.
Mariota finally has the nifty, reliable slot receiver that he has lacked over the course of his NFL career. Thankfully for the Titans, he seems to understand that.
2. Arthur Smith knows how to use him.
New Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith made his debut as a play-caller Thursday night. He showed that he understands how to effectively put Humphries into positions to succeed.
Though Humphries is certainly very talented, he is not the type of player that a coach can “set and forget.” Rather, the Titans coaches will need to ensure that they are utilizing designs and concepts that keep Humphries engaged in the offense.
Smith called a lot of plays on Thursday that did a good job of utilizing Humphries’ skill set. He was asked to run a handful of breaking routes and other patterns over the middle where he was the primary target.
Humphries also caught a screen pass and quickly turned it upfield to gain quality yardage, something he showed a knack for in Tampa Bay. He should be the primary recipient of screen passes for the Titans offense this season, and Arthur Smith seems to understand that.
Thanks to Delanie Walker’s injury that kept him out of 15 games, the Titans lacked a true threat on third down last season that could consistently and reliably move the chains. They figure to have multiple of those guys this season.
It will be up to Smith to draw up designs and concepts to get them the ball in those situations.
3. He’s a legitimate candidate to return punts.
Titans head coach Mike Vrabel has, thus far, refused to commit to a single player to be the team’s primary punt returner this season. On the “unofficial” depth chart that the Titans released as a part of their first weekly press release of the year, Humphries was listed as the starting returner.
Despite Vrabel’s prompting to take that depth chart with a grain of salt, it rang true on Thursday when it came to returning punts. Humphries was first in line to return a punt, and he did a good job of fielding it and getting north to south quickly.
The Titans struggled to get reliable punt returning last season thanks to struggles from Adoree’ Jackson and Cameron Batson. Despite his value on offense, Humphries’ reliability may prompt the Titans to make him their primary return man.
Other names to watch are Jackson and Kalif Raymond.
Cover image: Bill Streicher/USA Today