The Tennessee Titans played in their third preseason game on Sunday in which was a listless loss to the Chicago Bears. The offense of the Bears moved the ball with ease at times and the defense of the Bears really ratcheted up the pressure on quarterback Marcus Mariota. All in all, not many good things can be said about the Titans in this showing in their third preseason game, but one good thing that can be said is that Tajae Sharpe was back in action for the Titans.
In his rookie year, Sharpe was an unexpected surprise for Tennessee. He ended the season with 41 receptions for 522 yards and two touchdown receptions. Not bad numbers for a guy that no one expected to contribute like he did. With a new season brings a new set of circumstances though and Sharpe has jumped into one that looks to not be to his advantage. The addition of first-rounder Corey Davis (who has yet to play this preseason due to a hamstring injury), third-rounder Taywan Taylor and free agent Eric Decker, the deck is stacked against the rookie receiver who started for the Titans last season. So with that being said, what does he have to do to make the roster this season?
There is no better friend to a quarterback than a dependable receiver. Right now, the most dependable receiver for the Titans is Pro Bowl tight end Delanie Walker. The veteran tight end has been indispensable for the Titans during his tenure with the team. For Sharpe, he has to become that type of receiver that is dependable. Although he had solid numbers last season, the amount of targets he had in relation to his receptions tells the real story. Sharpe had 41 receptions last season, but what was interesting was he was given 83 targets. While we know that some of those targets were quite possibly passes that were thrown out of bounds and he was in the area or passes that were overthrown, but it would be unrealistic to think that almost half the passes thrown to him were off-target. What Sharpe has to do is concentrate more on catching the football when he gets his opportunities. He had a chance to show that Sunday and he did flash a few times, but with how bad the offense was, he is more than likely going to have to show in practice more this week that he can consistently catch the football.
Not only will Sharpe have to catch the football and focus on being a good wide receiver, he must also focus on being involved in more special teams plays. Where Sharpe currently stands on the roster, he is not on the first line. When that is the case, the team starts looking for receivers that can run down on kickoff, play on the receiving team, block punts or track down punts. The more Sharpe can get involved in special teams, the more he can show that he is a valuable asset that can cover many holes for this team. As it currently stands, he is not known as a special teams player and wide receivers Tre McBride, Eric Weems, and Harry Douglas serve as better special teams players. If that stands to be the case after the last preseason game, then Sharpe could be looking for another job in the NFL.
The Titans upgraded the wide receiver position this year, trying to strengthen a position that was a weakness in the 2016 season. In doing so, that has pushed Sharpe to the back of the line in terms of the wide receiver position. His injury did not do him any favors and the lack of production in his first game out did not help either. Game four of the preseason puts him squarely in the spotlight. Right now, it is make or break time for him if he is to remain a Titan this season.
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