One man’s injury – or in this case four men’s injuries – have made for a major opportunity for Tennessee Titans rookie receiver Taywan Taylor.
Taylor, a third-round pick from Western Kentucky, was probably looked at as a fourth or fifth receiver at the beginning of training camp before injuries thinned things at the position.
With Eric Decker (ankle) and Corey Davis (hamstring) missing time in preseason, plus injuries to Tajae Sharpe’s foot and Harry Douglas’ knee that landed both of them on injured reserve, Taylor has been a mainstay in the offensive huddle throughout camp and preseason.
And the rookie has benefitted greatly from the extra work, which he now hopes will translate into a strong showing beginning Sunday in the opener against the Oakland Raiders.
“I’ve just been trying to take advantage of every opportunity I get. I just try to focus on the task at hand, on my job and my assignment,” said Taylor, who had eight catches in preseason for 145 yards.
Both offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie and head coach Mike Mularkey say Taylor has been getting plenty of work, thanks to the injuries to others.
“Tay has been good. He looks like he’s little tired. He’s the guy that’s been getting all the reps. Every time something deep comes up, we put him in. I think he is the guy on the day of that got the most sleep,” Robiskie said.
“(He’s) probably (had) more (reps) than anybody. He’s had the most reps. He’s run the most, we chart these guys, how far, how fast, he’s always at the top of the list. It’s probably good for him, to get as many reps as he can,” he said.
Taylor said he still has work to do, but feels like he has improved as a student of the game during preseason.
“I’d definitely say I’ve improved on reading and understanding defenses more. I still have some things to improve on with that, but it’s definitely one of the things I’ve gotten better at,” Taylor said. “College is more relaxed. The NFL tempo is very fast and distinct, so I definitely want to be detailed in my assignments and know what I’m doing at all times.”
The rookie is also excited about his first NFL game, which will come Sunday at noon.
“I definitely can’t wait. It’s been my dream all of my life, and now it’s finally here. I just want to go out there and capitalize on my opportunity,” he said.
Left tackle Taylor Lewan sat out most of Thursday’s practice, as he was limited a day after suffering an ankle injury on Wednesday.
Mularkey professed confidence that Lewan would be able to play Sunday against the Raiders.
The situation may be a little more tenuous with cornerback LeShaun Sims, who sat out a second consecutive day with a groin injury. Mularkey said he would know more about Sims’ situation on Friday.
If Sims cannot go, the Titans might turn to rookie Adoree’ Jackson or veteran Brice McCain to replace him.
Linebacker Erik Walden, who signed with the Titans just before training camp, has switched his jersey from No. 58 that he wore in preseason to his more familiar 93 that he wore with the Packers and Colts.
Kevin Dodd, who has been wearing 93, has changed to No. 92.