Titans camp report: Young receivers starting to impress

Observations and opinions from Titans training camp in Nashville:

A more talented receiving corps could give Vince Young a boost this season.
A more talented receiving corps could give Vince Young a boost this season.

What’s new

When you think of the Titans’ offense, you think of 2,000-yard rusher Chris Johnson first. But now they’re developing some talent at the wide receiver position.

In addition to veterans Justin Gage, Kenny Britt and Nate Washington, Lavelle Hawkins looks like he has made a big jump heading into his third season, and seventh-round rookie Marc Mariani has been impressive. Damian Williams, a third-round pick, currently is on the physically unable to perform list.

"This is the best group of receivers (fifth-year quarterback) Vince Young has had around him since coming here," coach Jeff Fisher said.

Camp competition

Jason McCourty and Ryan Mouton, a pair of ’09 draft picks, aren’t the only two competing for the starting cornerback spot opposite Cortland Finnegan. Rookie Alterraun Verner also is in the mix. And veteran Tye Hill (strained hamstring) will join the competition once he returns to team drills.

"They are all just getting better right now," Fisher said. "It would be a tough call today if we were starting the regular season."

Rehab report

Starting outside linebacker David Thornton still is recovering from a shoulder injury that ended his ’09 season after 11 games. Thornton has been running and lifting weights but hasn’t practiced. The coaches hope he can play during the preseason at some point.

Rookie on the spot

The Titans drafted former Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan in the first round, hoping he could replace Kyle Vanden Bosch (now in Detroit). But nagging injuries, including a strained calf on the second day of camp, have limited Morgan. He is missing a lot of important reps.

"That’s costly," Fisher said, "but if there’s an underlying provision it’s that he plays well. He plays the run well, he rushes the passer, he plays with a good pad level. He’s a smart kid. He knows what to do and how to do it."

2010 outlook

There are a lot of reasons for optimism in Tennessee. Johnson is the fastest running back in the NFL—if not the best. Young appears to be on the verge of full blossom. And Fisher, currently the longest-tenured coach with one team, always gets his players to play hard. But this is a young team, especially on defense, and it might be a year away from being a contender.

Dennis Dillon is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at ddillon@sportingnews.com.

Observations and opinions from Titans training camp in Nashville:

A more talented receiving corps could give Vince Young a boost this season.
A more talented receiving corps could give Vince Young a boost this season.

What’s new

When you think of the Titans’ offense, you think of 2,000-yard rusher Chris Johnson first. But now they’re developing some talent at the wide receiver position.

In addition to veterans Justin Gage, Kenny Britt and Nate Washington, Lavelle Hawkins looks like he has made a big jump heading into his third season, and seventh-round rookie Marc Mariani has been impressive. Damian Williams, a third-round pick, currently is on the physically unable to perform list.

"This is the best group of receivers (fifth-year quarterback) Vince Young has had around him since coming here," coach Jeff Fisher said.

Camp competition

Jason McCourty and Ryan Mouton, a pair of ’09 draft picks, aren’t the only two competing for the starting cornerback spot opposite Cortland Finnegan. Rookie Alterraun Verner also is in the mix. And veteran Tye Hill (strained hamstring) will join the competition once he returns to team drills.

"They are all just getting better right now," Fisher said. "It would be a tough call today if we were starting the regular season."

Rehab report

Starting outside linebacker David Thornton still is recovering from a shoulder injury that ended his ’09 season after 11 games. Thornton has been running and lifting weights but hasn’t practiced. The coaches hope he can play during the preseason at some point.

Rookie on the spot

The Titans drafted former Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan in the first round, hoping he could replace Kyle Vanden Bosch (now in Detroit). But nagging injuries, including a strained calf on the second day of camp, have limited Morgan. He is missing a lot of important reps.

"That’s costly," Fisher said, "but if there’s an underlying provision it’s that he plays well. He plays the run well, he rushes the passer, he plays with a good pad level. He’s a smart kid. He knows what to do and how to do it."

2010 outlook

There are a lot of reasons for optimism in Tennessee. Johnson is the fastest running back in the NFL—if not the best. Young appears to be on the verge of full blossom. And Fisher, currently the longest-tenured coach with one team, always gets his players to play hard. But this is a young team, especially on defense, and it might be a year away from being a contender.

Dennis Dillon is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at ddillon@sportingnews.com.

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