NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Tennessee Titans are proceeding with caution when it comes to wide receiver Corey Davis at their rookie minicamp.
They want to make sure the fifth overall pick’s surgically repaired ankle is completely healed.
With quarterback Marcus Mariota also recovering from surgery to fix a broken right leg, the Titans are taking no chances with the players expected to lead the passing game.
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”He’s itching,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said of Davis. ”He wants to play, and I know he does. It’s hard for me to hold him back, but that’s the way it is.”
Mularkey said Davis did most of the individual work and a lot of the walk-through Friday morning on the first day of a three-day rookie minicamp. The Titans limited the wide receiver from Western Michigan to individual drills in the afternoon practice with players wearing helmets.
”He’s a good looking athlete,” Mularkey said. ”We’re monitoring what we’re doing with him right now. We’re still making sure that he’s recovering from his surgery. He’s on schedule, so this was all our plan. He’s itching to play and practice. We’re going to be smart with him.”
The surgery to repair torn ligaments didn’t hurt Davis’ draft stock as Tennessee made him the first wide receiver drafted this year. He has plenty of proven production as the all-time leading receiver in Football Bowl Subdivision history with 5,285 yards.
A true No. 1 receiver that lasts for more than a season or two is something the Titans have been looking for since their first draft in Tennessee in 1998. That year they passed up Randy Moss for Kevin Dyson, who scored on the Music City Miracle that helped propel the Titans to the 2000 Super Bowl where Dyson was a yard shy of the end zone in a loss to the Rams.
Kenny Britt was the 30th pick overall in 2009 followed by Kendall Wright in 2012 at No. 20. The Titans have drafted physically gifted phenoms in the second round like Tyrone Calico in 2003 and Justin Hunter at No. 34 overall in 2013. Dorial Green-Beckham, 40th overall in 2015, lasted one season before being traded away.
They do have Rishard Matthews back leading the receiving corps after he led the team with 65 catches, and Tajae Sharpe started 10 games as a rookie with 41 catches for 522 yards .
But the Titans are enamored with the 6-foot-3 Davis, size that Mularkey said surprised Mariota when the quarterback met his newest receiver Friday.
Davis said he looks forward to working with Mariota, who Mularkey said is jogging right now but not at full speed. To help Mariota and Davis start building timing and chemistry, Mularkey said he’s looking at mixing in more 7-on-7 drills and other drills this offseason to assist with that.
Mariota turned in the franchise’s third-highest passer rating in his second season at 95.6, and he also threw for 3,426 yards and 26 touchdowns with nine interceptions. Yet the Titans ranked 25th in the NFL averaging 221.3 yards passing.
Watching practice isn’t easy for Davis who’s focusing on learning the playbook. He insists he could go right now and stays busy catching balls off the Jugs machine with extra time watching film with wide receivers coach Frisman Jackson.
”I’m just not doing everything full speed,” Davis said.
Davis isn’t the only rookie the Titans grabbed in the draft that has a shot to contribute. They took Taywan Taylor of Western Kentucky in the third round, and Mularkey has the 5-11, 203-pound Taylor learning how to play both outside and in the slot. Mularkey said Taylor struggled a bit with nerves catching balls during the walk-through and improved in the afternoon.
”I don’t see a lot of problems with his learning,” Mularkey said. ”I think he’s done a great job of picking both spots up.”
INJURY: Running back Brandon Burks from Troy was carted off the field after catching his foot and hurting his left knee. He was among 27 players the Titans had in the minicamp on try-outs. … Mularkey said the rookies will mix in with the veterans Monday.
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