Friday, August 23, 2013
Michael Preston, a tennis ball and a wall
By Paul Kuharsky
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Michael Preston looks to be a reliable receiver who continues to grow and is making the most of his chances.
Here’s a snapshot that illustrates the mindset of the Tennessee Titans receiver:
This week, as Mike Munchak talked to the media after a practice, I spotted Preston off by himself.
He had a tennis ball and stood near a wall with no windows. He threw the ball high off the wall 25 times at close range, then did the same at a middle height, low, and across his body. He changed hands and did the same 100 catches again.
Titans wide receiver Michael Preston is eyeing more than catches this preseason. He's working hard toward a roster spot.
“Ah, man, you really wasn’t even suppose to see that," he said with a grin when I asked him about it. "I’m always trying to do little things. My coach at Heidelberg back in college was big on tennis balls and the hand-eye coordination.
“That’s something you might find me doing in my spare time. I’m always trying to do a little something to get better. I put my eyes in different positions and the hand will follow. [Receivers coach Shawn Jefferson] is big on your eyes, making sure you’re not sacrificing your eyes on each ball. It’s getting that motion down and building that hand-eye coordination.”
There are a few indentations on the wall he was using, and once in a while the ball would hit one and ricochet from close range at an angle anyone would have trouble reacting to so quickly from so close.
Outside of those, he expects to catch every ball.
“I don’t give myself any leeway,” he said. “If I let one get away from me I add on, like, five more. I’m very hard on myself in terms of preparing and little things of that nature.”
I’m sure they’d like to, but there is no telling if the shape of their roster will allow for it. The injured Marc Mariani is still in the return mix and while he could be a return specialist, he also plays receiver. Kevin Walter is expected to start the season on PUP and not re-emerge until later.
Preston was on the practice squad for 12 games last year, then caught five balls for 59 yards in the team’s final four games. He’s consistently showed well in camp practices and in two preseason games has five catches for 76 yards, including a 46-yard TD. He also dropped a third-down pass in the opener against Washington.