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VOL. 40 | NO. 32 | Friday, August 5, 2016

Rookie receiver provides Sharpe focus on new GM’s strategy

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Tennessee Titans rookie wide receiver Tajae Sharpe (19), running a drill here against cornerback Kalan Reed, is a departure from the type of receiver the Titans had been pursuing.

-- Ap Photo/Mark Humphrey

Get a good look at Dorial Green-Beckham.

He not only looks to be in much better shape, entering his second training camp with the Tennessee Titans at 228 pounds, but also because he might be the last wide receiver of his type drafted by the club for a while.

Green-Beckham came to the Titans last year as a second-round pick, a player with heralded skills and a former No. 1 high school recruit in the country. He has the potential to be a superstar – if:

-- He can get in top physical shape

-- He can master the playbook and route running on a more consistent basis

-- He can show the maturity to do both of those things, plus stay away from the off-field troubles that plagued him at the University of Missouri

Green-Beckham, with enough work and enough study, may yet buck the trend and become the star the Titans have sought for so long. But the philosophy of drafting for high-end potential seems to be endangered on Jon Robinson’s watch.

Green-Beckham isn’t the first wide receiver, or player, for that matter, that Tennessee has rolled the dice on because of what could be, rather than what is.

DGB’s teammate Justin Hunter fits that same mold as another second-round pick with loads of talent, but that talent has not yet translated into consistent results.

The same things could be said of several former high draft picks of the Titans at receiver – Tyrone Calico, Paul Williams, Kenny Britt.

Now, contrast that with this year’s selection of Tajae Sharpe in the fifth round.

Sharpe isn’t the physical specimen or true athlete that any of those guys listed above are. But he has made a good impression with his quick grasp of the playbook and good hands. The rookie has been enough of an offseason marvel that he is already running with the first team.

Why? Because he gets to the right spot at the right time almost every time and he catches the football.

Nothing flashy, nothing fancy, just getting the job done.

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“That’s one of the things I take pride in is being in the right spot and having my quarterback trust me,” Sharpe says. “If he has pressure or anything, he knows I’m going to be where he’s expecting me.”

Granted, he has a long way to go. Sharpe will have to continue to do what he has been doing, only in pads on and on the field in preseason games.

But his play already shows a different approach taken by Robinson at a problem position. The priority with draft picks now is not long-range potential or what they might become in two or three years. Instead, it is about coming in, getting acclimated quickly and making a contribution.

Sharpe, who often carries a football around with him and even sleeps with one beside him a t night, came to the Titans from UMass, hardly a football factory. He is a little undersized at 6-foot-2, 194 pounds, but all off-season and again this week when the pads went on, there was Sharpe, running precise routes, catching every catchable ball and firming his grip on a starting role.

“I’m doing what I have to do on the field. It doesn’t matter how big you are. If you want it more than the guy that’s lined up against you, you’re going to win,” Sharpe said. “Hard work beats talent when talent don’t work hard. I just want to go out there and fight and try to prove to everybody else what I can do at this level. I have confidence in myself and I just want to keep working it and progress.”

Sharpe’s efforts have even caught the attention of some of his most heralded teammates.

“You can tell he’s a playmaker,” tight end Delanie Walker says. “He’s just out here trying to get a job. I like his attitude and even the way he plays the game.”

Terry McCormick covers the Titans for TitanInsider.com

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