The biggest story surrounding the Tennessee Titans as they headed into 2018 Training Camp last week was the team’s receiving corps. Specifically, how the group would perform without a true veteran in the fold.

Prior to the start of the previous two years of Training Camp, the Titans brought in receivers Andre Johnson and Eric Decker, respectively, in efforts to aid the team’s younger receivers. Neither one of those additions made much of an impact.

In 2018, it is going to be completely up to the younger guys. Aside from Rishard Matthews, who has yet to practice and remains on the PUP list, the Titans receiving corps does not have a true veteran player. It’s going to be up to Corey Davis, Taywan Taylor, and Tajaé Sharpe to carry a major load.

Over the first five practices of camp, the Titans offense really seemed to struggle. While some of the issues can certainly be chalked up to the fact that they were facing a strong group of defensive backs, part of the problem was that quarterback Marcus Mariota and his receivers really weren’t connecting.

Those struggles prompted a handful of questions from the media about the issue, and Titans coaches constantly assured that the problem would be fixed in time as the offense continued to get more repetitions together.

On Wednesday, the unit finally seemed to begin turning the corner. They weren’t perfect by any means, but it was by far the best day the group has had since they first practiced last Thursday.

Mistakes did continue to hamper the group. Corey Davis and Michael Campanaro each had a drop, and the offensive line had a false start. But when it came to chemistry with the quarterback, the Titans’ receivers seemed to be especially locked in.

Wide receiver Tajaé Sharpe, who missed the entirety of last season with a foot injury, agreed with the notion that the receivers’ communication with Mariota has improved. “We’re putting in the work every single day and I think the quarterbacks are trusting us more and more as we get out here and get things rolling. All the guys are doing a great job of learning their assignments and what we’re supposed to do.”

Michael Campanaro also feels that the receivers are doing a good job of constantly improving and picking up Matt LaFleur’s offense. “I think guys have done a great job. From springtime to now, you can really see guys just getting comfortable in this system, with the details in the offense. That’s why we’re out here, we’re working every day, working on the details and just getting through the offense.”

There have been plenty of cries from Titans fans over the last few weeks to add a veteran receiver like Dez Bryant or Jeremy Maclin to the mix. It seems increasingly unlikely that something like that happens, especially considering the group’s improvement as a whole on Wednesday.

Mariota said that the team not adding a veteran speaks to the talent and hard work of the younger players. “When you’ve got a young group, yeah it would be nice to have some veteran leadership. But at the same time, it’s kind of fun to see those guys growing up together and they’re all leaning on each other. If someone’s got a question, they’re all trying to help each other out. When you’re able to do that, I think that builds the chemistry that’s going to be needed for the year.”

He added that he, too, has felt an improvement in his ability to be in sync with his receivers. “I think the communication has gotten a lot better. They’re all saying ‘this is what I’m seeing,’ and we’re all just kind of communicating. If there’s a certain route where I expect them to be, I’m able to go over there and voice what I want, and those guys are doing their best to achieve that. Hopefully, that allows us to create some success.”

Head coach Mike Vrabel also commented on the receiving corp’s visible improvement. “The confidence comes from the quarterback and the receivers doing it over and over in practice. Being where they’re supposed to be, and catching the ball, making the throw with timing. When you can do those things repeatedly, that’s when they start to build confidence. When they have confidence, I as a coach have confidence.”

Obviously, it is far from a finished product. There are still plenty of mistakes and other issues that need to be cleaned up. But Titans fans should definitely be encouraged after Wednesday’s practice.

The Titans receivers have a load of talent, but everything hinges on their ability to be in sync with Mariota. If Wednesday’s practice was any indication, the group is well on their way to being in that spot.

Cover image via Titans Online.

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