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VOL. 39 | NO. 32 | Friday, August 7, 2015

Green-Beckham finds shade in Mariota’s shadow

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Wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, the Titans’ second round draft pick this year, is enjoying unusual anonymity in preseason camp, thanks largely to the presence of top draft pick Marcus Mariota.

-- Ap Photo/Mark Humphrey

If not for the overwhelming presence of Marcus Mariota in the Tennessee Titans training camp, all eyes would likely be on another rookie trying to make his mark in the NFL.

Second-round pick Dorial Green-Beckham came to the Titans in May with plenty of talent and baggage that, in most years, would have made him the focus of this training camp.

Green-Beckham’s story is well-known among college football fans and fans in the NFL. He grew up in St. Louis and was in and out of foster care until he and his brother were eventually adopted by Green-Beckham’s high school football coach, John Beckham and his wife Tracy.

In high school, Green-Beckham became a superstar and a top national recruit, deciding to stay in state at the University of Missouri.

His talent was undeniable. But he also began to run afoul of the law.

Two arrests involving marijuana and later an incident where he was accused of pushing an 18-year-old woman led to his dismissal from the Missouri program.

He transferred to Oklahoma and sat out under NCAA transfer rules before declaring for the draft.

Talent-wise, DGB (as he is commonly referred) was no doubt a first-round pick. But his off-field issues caused him to drop into round two, where the Titans gambled.

There are three primary reasons why the Titans decided he was worth risk:

  • His talent
  • The Titans are banking on a change in priorities, that having football taken away from Green-Beckham has made him realize what a privilege it is to play
  • The Titans believe that with the right people and structure around him, they can help keep Green-Beckham on the straight and narrow

Green-Beckham has been mostly a hit during the open practices, wowing fans with some nice receptions, but still battling the inevitable rookie mistakes.

Green-Beckham may be benefiting from Mariota’s presence in ways that go beyond catching footballs from the rookie quarterback’s accurate right arm.

The hype and attention that come with Mariota – inevitable as a Heisman Trophy winner and the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s NFL draft ­– has allowed DGB to develop at his own pace and without some of the scrutiny that might normally follow someone with his skills and past.

“I feel like there is (some benefit from that), but that isn’t going to stop me from doing my job, because I know people are still watching me,” Green-Beckham says.

“I can’t take a step backwards. Even though I’ve not been talked too much about, I’ve still got to go out there and do my job and help my teammates out.”

That, Coach Ken Whisenhunt says, is a lesson best learned via the rigors of training camp.

“He looks good, makes plays early in practice, and then you can see him get tired and then you can see his concentration go and then he may have had a couple of drops at the end of practice. So that’s what this is all about,” Whisenhunt says.

“A little bit of a microcosm is working through those things. He’s got to understand that when we do two-minute (next week), he’s going to be gassed.

“There’s going to be a play that’s going to come to him and that’s what we’re going to find out, can you make those plays when you’re tired because that’s the fourth quarter of a football game and that’s what being a better team is all about.”

It’s a message that has to sink in not only for Green-Beckham, but a number of other young Titans trying to help right a team that sank to 2-14 a year ago.

“For me, it’s just going out there and giving my all,” Green-Beckham says. “I’m just want to stay humble and go out there and make plays. I just like to focus and learn and feel comfortable.”

Terry McCormick covers the Titans for TitanInsider.com and is a blogger for 247 Sports NFL Insider.

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