- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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A player, coach or issue that should be on your radar as training camp approaches.
Marc Mariani comes into the league as a seventh-round draft pick from a less-than glamorous Montana program.
The Titans are locked in at the top of their receiver depth chart with Kenny Britt, Justin Gage and Nate Washington. Damian Williams, a third-round pick from USC, figured to rank fourth in line while working as the punt returner.
Hawkins and Williams have had trust issues -- as in offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger can’t trust them always to do the right thing and be in the right place. Mariani seems to be a fast learner who’s already pretty comfortable, confident and smooth as a route runner and pass-catcher.
A guy that far down the depth chart at a position has to offer something on special teams. Hawkins and Williams don’t offer anything above average, while Mariani could be the guy to field kickoffs for a team that was disturbingly poor on kick and punt returns a year ago.
I think Mariani came in as a coaching staff favorite and already has confirmed to them that he deserves the rating. Still, any early enthusiasm over a middle- or late-round receiver has to be tempered in Tennessee by memories of names like Eddie Berlin, Jake Schifino, Darrell Hill, Jonathan Orr and Joel Filani.