Sharpe finally healthy in Titans’ crowded receiver group
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tajae Sharpe is finally off the physically unable to perform list and the Titans wide receiver finds himself not only competing for playing time but possibly a roster spot.
Sharpe started 10 games as a rookie last season for Tennessee, but the receiving corps now is one of the team’s most competitive groups.
The Titans removed Sharpe off the list Monday after he passed his physical, adding him to the active roster in time for practice.
”I was pretty impressed with him,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. ”We worked him out this morning again one more time for safety measures and to make sure we were making the right decision bringing him off. He worked out great. I’m anxious to see how he responds to this practice. He took a number of reps, but I’m pretty pleased.”
That’s good for Sharpe, the first pick of the fifth around in 2016. He led the nation with 111 catches as a senior at Massachusetts. Sharpe started 10 of the 16 games he played as a rookie and finished with 41 catches for 522 yards and two touchdowns for Tennessee.
But the Titans revamped the wide receiving corps this offseason. They drafted Corey Davis out of Western Michigan at No. 5 overall as the first wide receiver taken while also adding Taywan Taylor from Western Kentucky in the third round . Then they signed veteran Eric Decker in June , taking advantage of the Jets making Decker a salary cap casualty.
Right now, Davis and Matthews are listed as the starters even though Davis has yet to play a snap in a preseason game after hurting a hamstring Aug. 3. Decker, Taylor, veteran Harry Douglas – who Mularkey called ”invaluable” last week – and Tre McBride, the biggest question has been whether the Titans will keep five or six wide receivers.
Someone will be left out.
Sharpe had been healing from surgery in June to repair a stress fracture in his right foot. The rehab has kept him stuck on the sideline watching teammates through most of the offseason program and the first three weeks this preseason.
”It was hard regardless just because I just hate being out there on the sideline with my teammates out there working day in, day out,” Sharpe said. ”It was just a terrible thing for me inside knowing they’re out there fighting and grinding and I can’t be out there with them. For me to finally get back out there, it just kind of felt like the (weight) was off my back. And I just kind of got to be able to breathe and just be thankful for my opportunity again.”
Mularkey said Sharpe’s biggest challenge right now is getting into football shape.
”The best way to do that is to be out here,” Mularkey said. ”The way we condition by going to the ball every play, that’s the best way to get in shape. You can run all you want on a treadmill, but there’s nothing like being out here.”
Sharpe will get the chance to show what he can do. The Titans may not get the injured Davis back until the season opener Sept. 10 against Oakland. Mularkey said the 6-foot-2 Sharpe does bring another big receiver to the mix outside and helps with Decker out with an ankle he hurt last week. Sharpe is hoping to convince the coaches to let him play Sunday against Chicago (1-1).
”I want to be out there every snap, every day,” Sharpe said.
Notes: The Titans wrapped up practice in time to watch the eclipse Monday. Players were handed glasses, and several just laid down on the field to take in the event. ” It was pretty cool to be out there with the rest of the team, looking like 9 o’ clock at night at 1:30,” linebacker Derrick Morgan said. Coaches made it very clear before practice to the Titans to use the glasses carefully. No fine was at risk. ”A burned retina,” Mularkey said of the cost.
For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL.
Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker