Hunter comes into camp motivated in his contract year, Jim Wyatt of the team's official site reports.
Hunter's lack of focus has often been blamed for the physically gifted receiver's inability to make a major impact since being drafted 34th overall in 2013, but he'll have to put up or shut up with his deal set to expire after this coming season. He'll need to beat out experienced vets like Kendall Wright and Harry Douglas, as well as young up-and-comers like Dorial Green-Beckham and Tajae Sharpe to make an impact for the Titans, but it seems like coach Mike Mularkey is willing to at least give the talented wideout the opportunity to do so. The rest is up to Hunter.
The 34th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, Hunter enters the final year of his rookie contract with just 68 catches in 35 career games (13 starts) and is coming off an injury-shortened season in which he posted a 22-264-1 receiving line on 31 targets over nine appearances. The
Sharpe has impressed coach Mike Mularkey with his ability to catch the ball and run polished routes, earning some first-team reps as a result, Jason Wolf of the Tennessean reports.
It appears the Titans found a steal in the fifth round this offseason, as Sharpe continues to prove that his incredibly productive time at Massachusetts was no fluke. The wiry rookie is still fighting an uphill battle to earn significant playing time among a deep Titans receiving corps, but he's quickly closing the gap on expected leading options Kendall Wright, Dorial Green-Beckham and Rishard Matthews.
Titans head coach Mike Mularkey said Green-Beckham is not a lock to open the season as Tennessee's starting X receiver, The Tennessean reports. "That all depends on him," Mularkey said when asked to assess Green-Beckham's upside. "How effective is he out here, first? And then we get into these preseason games, see how much we can load him up. We also know we've got some other options too that will be competing with him. So it's not a for sure he's lining up at 'X' for us on opening Sunday.
With Kendall Wright presumably manning the slot and offseason acquisition Rishard Matthews expected to handle one starting job on the outside, Green-Beckham will likely compete with Harry Douglas and (maybe) Justin Hunter (ankle) for the other starting spot. The competition isn't exactly fierce, and Green-Beckham showed flashes of his immense talent late last season, topping 100 yards two times in a three-week span. While a clear favorite to start, DGB does have serious competition for touches/targets, as the Titans also have an impressive tight end in Delanie Walker, and they've made no secret of their desire to establish a power running game with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. With so many first or second-year players and new acquisitions, the Tennessee offense will bear close watching throughout training camp and the preseason.
A 2015 fifth-round draft pick, Cobb had a shot to earn a significant role as a rookie, but he was ultimately derailed by injuries and perhaps poor conditioning. His skill set as a power runner now appears redundant on the Tennessee roster after the team acquired DeMarco Murray and drafted Derrick Henry in the offseason. Cobb is thus left to battle with Antonio Andrews and Bishop Sankey for what will likely be one roster spot, if that. Dexter McCluster, as a passing-down specialist, appears to be the best roster fit alongside Murray and Henry. If he doesn't make the team in Tennessee, Cobb could still draw interest from other organizations before the season begins. There's also always a shot injuries could open things up for him with the Titans.