Best case scenario: Davis follows Mason's path
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Chris Davis is looking like he's carrying his strong OTA work over into training camp, and it's a great development for the Titans.
He's been working a lot as the team's third wide receiver and has surely benefitted from the absence at practice so far of first-round pick Kenny Britt who signed late and is on PUP coming off a hamstring issue.
I don't want to overextend, but I've been wondering if Davis might be on a growth curve like Derrick Mason experienced at the start of his career. Both were fourth round picks by Tennessee.
Mason, the Ravens receiver who recently ended a brief retirement, didn't do a heck of a lot his first two seasons (Davis has done even less), then took off as a return man in his third season and as a receiver in 2000, when he set an NFL record for all-purpose yardage.
No, I'm not predicting Davis will set any NFL records. But I could see him becoming a productive slot guy and return man.
"There are some similarities there as far as the career path is concerned," coach Jeff Fisher said. "Derrick played, he had some difficulty with injuries, he was struggling a little bit with the concepts and then got his opportunity and set the all-purpose record for yardage in a single season. Chris has a lot of abilities with the hands, he has a much better feel for what we are asking him to do and he's got tremendous ability as a returner."
The single biggest different, said Davis and quarterback Kerry Collins, is confidence.
"Chris Davis definitely is a more confident guy," Collins said. "I think he's growing into himself. He understands what he does well and he's trying to also work on his weaknesses. I like him. He's a quick guy, he's got a good feel for getting open and I think he's got some good yards after the catch ability. I hope he continues to do well, I think he's made a lot of progress."
Said Davis: "I think I have gotten better. I still have a ways to go, but I think I have progressed. Probably it's confidence -- getting the coaches and the quarterbacks behind you and believing in you too, I think I've just gained more confidence."
One play Monday afternoon was just one of several so far that illustrate his progress.
In a play-action scenario he caught a short pass on the right. Defenders were lining him up for what could have been kill shots in live action, but he's supposed to do his best to stay free and run down the field. Vincent Fuller came flying in, but Davis dodged him with a full spin, dipped his shoulder, got to the sideline and zipped along.
I thought he had another good day.
Lavelle Hawkins, who is fighting with Davis for positioning among the receivers, did not.
At the end of a drill where receivers worked on getting off a jam from a defensive back, offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger called to Hawkins that "I could go over to the nursery school to listen to somebody cry all day" and went over to him to detail his complaints. Later, Hawkins was guilty of a false start in a team period and again didn't make Heimerdinger happy.