NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Rookie Corey Davis lined up against cornerback Logan Ryan in a 1-on-1 drill and beat the veteran signed away from New England this offseason for a very nice catch.
Fans cheered. Titans coach Mike Mularkey is pretty happy too.
“That set the tone for him, builds confidence every day he can do things like that,” Mularkey said.
The 6-foot-3, 209-pound Davis practiced Sunday after becoming the last draft pick to agree to a contract, and the fifth overall pick and first wide receiver selected convinced Mularkey he had been preparing for training camp by not stopping a huddle or looking around at a coach to figure out what play had been called.
Davis struggled later in the same drill with tight coverage as he tried to cut back across the field. But the man who set the Football Bowl Subdivision record with 5,285 yards receiving at Western Michigan and became only the second player in FBS history with 52 career touchdown receptions said he knows he has a long way to go.
That’s exactly the attitude Mularkey and the Titans want from a wide receiver selected with the highest draft pick by this franchise in 21 seasons in Tennessee. They drafted Davis to give Marcus Mariota a big target and to help improve the passing offense that ranked 25th in the NFL last year averaging 221.3 yards per game. The All-American caught 97 passes for 1,500 yards with 19 TDs as a senior.
Davis immediately stepped into drills with the first-team offense working with Rishard Matthews. Eric Decker, signed after the offseason program ended, also rotated in. But Davis said he’s expecting to start the season opener Sept. 10 against the Oakland Raiders.
“Stay healthy, go out there and handle my business, I don’t expect anything to be handed to me,” Davis said. “So I got to go out there and earn it. But that’s my expectations to go out there and be a starter.”
Matthews should start after leading the team with 945 yards receiving last season with nine touchdown receptions. The 6-foot-3 Decker has started 75 of the 95 games he’s played in his career, though he is expected to be used largely in the slot. Mularkey said the best part of the Titans bolstering the receiving corps this offseason is that they now have lots of options with receivers who can play each spot on the field.
“That’s the beauty of our offense,” Mularkey said. “We move guys all around to try to get the best matchups. He’s not stuck in one spot. You can call him the ‘X,’ but he may line up over where the ‘Z’ lines up. If he’s productive, we’ll obviously try to get him the ball.”
First, Davis has to keep proving he knows the offense and keep building chemistry with Mariota. Both the quarterback and Davis were limited as they recovered from offseason surgeries, and the receiver was allowed to do much more in the team’s minicamp to wrap up the offseason program. Mariota only started taking snaps in team drills Saturday with the start of training camp.
Luckily, Davis only missed the opening practice of training camp before agreeing to terms. He already had been in town acclimating to the Tennessee heat and quickly got to the team’s headquarters to sign his deal.
“It’s getting there, I’ll definitely say that,” Davis said. “Just with vet minicamp and OTAs and everything, he’s a great guy, great leader and he’s teaching me a lot. But we still have some ways to go, so we’ll see.”
Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker