Wide receiver Corey Davis is finally emerging as the star receiver the Tennessee Titans drafted him to be.

At the start of the season, the only veteran in the Titans’ wide receiver room was Rishard Matthews, who had led the team in yardage since he joined the team in 2016.

On Wednesday, Matthews requested and was granted his release from the team due to a dispute over playing time. That left the Titans with a group of young and inexperienced receivers. Nick Williams, who is now the by-default “veteran” of the group, has less than 300 receiving yards.

Matthews leaving made one thing very clear: someone in the Titans WR room was going to have to step up. The guy that made the most sense to do that was Corey Davis, the fifth overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft.

Davis’ first NFL season was riddled with injuries, inconsistencies, and subpar performances. He did not catch a single touchdown in the regular season and showed very few flashes that made him look like he was worthy of the top five draft selection the Titans used on him.

Fast forward to this year’s preseason, and things did not get much better. He consistently looked lost when it came to his ability to connect with quarterback Marcus Mariota, and he showed next to nothing during Training Camp to warrant any excitement about the outlook of his season.

Slowly but surely to begin the season, Davis improved. He made plays with the ball in his hands and added elements of toughness and physicality to his game that simply were not there before.

It looked as if Davis was starting to turn the corner, but he was limited by an injured Mariota and “bandaid” playcalling due to several other injuries. Once the Titans were back at full strength healthwise against the Philadelphia Eagles, he exploded.

Davis gave the Eagles fits all game long. He made plays on screen passes, deep balls, and medium throws over the middle. He ran through people, around people, and made contested catches over people.

In the end, Davis finished with nine catches on fifteen targets for 161 yards and the first regular season touchdown of his career. To put it simply, he was flat out dominant.

Finally, Davis is looking like the player the Titans drafted him to be.

Head coach Mike Vrabel gives Davis a lot of credit for his improvement. “He’s competitive, he’s strong, he’s really starting to feel comfortable, he’s gaining confidence. We’ve played some good defenses, and I give these guys all of the credit in the world.”

Vrabel went on to say that the biggest area of Davis’ game to improve is his ability to do things off-script. “That’s a thing that Corey is really starting to do, whether it be a third-down catch or he’s going up and getting it, he’s attacking the football. He’s using his strength, his length, his catch radius, and he’s going to attack the football.”

The biggest thing to improve for Davis on Sunday was his chemistry with Marcus Mariota. There were no miscues or plays where both parties looked completely lost.

Instead, they both looked confident in each other. Davis was always where Mariota wanted and needed him to be, and Mariota delivered a number of very nice throws.

Mariota raved after the game about his #1 receiver, saying “I love that guy. He brings his heart out every single day to work. I think he’s got some incredible talent. We’ve got to find ways to get him the football and allow him to use that talent.”

The Titans’ signal caller added that Davis can’t stop working toward improvement, though. “It’s on him. He has to continue to have that same mindset. I think if he does, he can be very successful.”

Breaking out in the way that he did had to feel good for Davis, especially after the tumultuous departure of Matthews. Davis said after the game that he and his fellow young receivers took it upon themselves to fill the void left by Matthews. “With Rishard there or not, I kind of looked at myself as a leader and the coaches did too. Rishard is a great person. I love him, but he made his decision and we had to go with guys that we had and that’s what we did…A lot of guys say we’re young, but we made it happen today.”

Davis also discussed his improving chemistry with his quarterback. “Every week, we get after it. You know, me and Marcus always put in extra work to do the things that we need to do to go into the game confident and that should be good…I feel like it’s always a process and room for improvement. That’s kind of what I expect for myself, to go out there and catch every ball and make plays. So that’s what we did today.”

In order for the Titans offense to continue having success, especially with star tight end Delanie Walker sidelined due to injury, Davis will need to have some repeat performances of his coming out party against the Eagles.

At least for the moment, it looks like Davis is morphing into a legitimate #1 receiver for Mariota and the Titans offense. That is a very, very good thing.

Cover image via Titans Online.

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