In the category of obvious things, Justin Hunter told Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline that there's "another level" that he has to reach. Sound familiar? It should. It seems like every offseason -- no matter what coaching staff is here -- the Titans are trying some sort of new mind trick to motivate Justin Hunter.
2016: Mike Mularkey
"I’m asking him to step up and be more aggressive about it – to look at the guy across from him and tell him, ‘You can’t cover me.’ He just needs more confidence in his body language and everything about him, he’s got such talent. I think he’s got to believe he’s got the talent."
2015: Ken Whisenhunt
"At some point, you either get it or you won't be in this league anymore," Whisenhunt said last week, via the Tennessean. "That's the natural order of the NFL."
2015: Shawn Jefferson
"There comes a time we’ve got to s--- or get off the pot, and this is his moment."
2012: Derek Dooley
"First, it has to happen with more consistency in practice. Justin has got to understand that playing receiver is not always clean and easy [and] that there’s a little grit that you have to do to get open. You’re going to have to get hit. Good receivers are going to make those kind of plays no matter what the circumstance. He’s not there yet."
Tough love clearly didn't work with Hunter, so the Titans even tried throwing praise at him. Saying things like "the sky is the limit" or even saying they saw some "Calvin Johnson in him." At what point do you just determine that they guy doesn't have it?
Hunter is entering a contract year, so it's literally now or never for the 4th year receiver. Ken Whisenhunt and Shawn Jefferson said as much last season in an attempt to motivate Hunter, but we saw more of the same play.
I've always said it was mental with Justin. He's got the athletic skills, he's just too passive on the field. There's no "my ball" mentality, no confidence. Will that change with his job on the line? It hasn't in the previous three seasons, but he also hasn't had this much pressure on him before.
A huge part of the equation with Hunter has been injuries. He hasn't really put together a full season yet in the NFL. Hunter suffered a torn ACL in college, a lacerated spleen in 2014 and a fractured ankle last season.
Kendall Wright, Dorial Green-Beckham, Rishard Matthews and Tajae Sharpe seem to be the locks. Can Justin Hunter beat out Tre McBride and Harry Douglas? He's on another level athletically than both Douglas and McBride, but he's going to have to prove that he's not the same guy that we've seen since 2013.