The Titans wideout group is arguably the most impressive it has ever been since the franchise uprooted from Houston to Nashville. The corps is highlighted by the young star play-maker in Kendall Wright and an emerging deep threat in Justin Hunter. But the forgotten, and often under-appreciated member is who we'll be discussing today.
Nate Washington has been a stalwart contributor in the Titans receiving corps since he arrived in town, and is without doubt the best Titans wideout in terms of career, since the days of Derrick Mason and Drew Bennett. He has been a positive difference maker since with excellent hands and durability.
Now, nostalgia out of the way, let's focus on where he is today. Despite being 30 years of age, Washington just posted another season close to 1000 yards receiving yards on 58 grabs, good for a healthy 15.8 yards per catch average. Beyond this, his lies 10th in the AFC on third down catches.
The play below, taken from the Titans preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons last season, illustrates that Washington still has what it takes to be a weapon for this Tennessee offense. That production is only like to increase with another year of development from Jake Locker, as well as a repaired running game (crossed fingers) and the focus on other players like Wright and Hunter, and even Delanie Walker.
Beyond this, on a roster of young wide receivers, Nate offers the advantages of superior intangible abilities, leading by example and setting the tone of the team. I will never forget him playing through injury in the 2011 and having to be carried off the field.
Washington provides the versatility to play inside and out, as well as reliable depth on the 2014 roster. Despite making 4.8 million in salary, the new coaching staff has made no indications of plans to part ways with the productive receiver. Nate has been on record already speaking very highly of new Head Coach Ken Whinsenhunt and the new staff, and will benefit, along with the younger players, from the continuity grown with Shawn Jefferson retaining his post.
In an NFL where hype runs amok, Washington stands as a throw-back to the old days of the blue-collar-style worker; a leader on the field and in the locker room, and a provider of steady and reliable play that fans are want to overlook, but that every NFL franchise needs. Either way, Nate Washington deserves plaudits for his solid play and consistent hands, and Titans fans should feel lucky to have a guy of his veteran quality out wide heading into an important first year of the new coaching regime.