After six seasons of playing at best a secondary role on offense, receiver Nate Washington produced his best season ever in 2011. And he wants to keep getting better.
“There’s still a lot of things I can do better, and I want to it to pay off for this year,” Washington told John Glennon of the Tennessean. “I can always talk about the success of last year. But you can also be that guy who had one blow-up year and then you’re right back down there — that this is the guy we know. I just want to be the guy that’s consistent.”
Washington caught 74 passes for 1,023 yards last season, with extra opportunities undoubtedly fueled by the September ACL tear suffered by Kenny Britt. The new coaching staff, including receivers coach Dave Ragone, apparently helped Washington get the most out of his abilities in his seventh NFL campaign.
“He probably got more opportunities, and that was a part of it,” G.M. Ruston Webster said. “I think Dave’s coaching style helped, too, because he hit it off with Nate, and Nate responded. And I don’t think you can underestimate Matt Hasselbeck’s part in that.
“But you have to give Nate a lot of credit because he really stepped up. We really needed him to do that. We had to have him and he did it. He played hurt. He did the whole thing.”
Still, giving Nate credit has its limits. This year, Britt is expected back. And the Titans used the 20th overall pick on receiver Kendall Wright, who if he performs like the 20th overall pick is expected to perform will eventually bounce Washington to the bench.
Washington nevertheless welcomes the addition of Wright. “I think this is going to be a pretty explosive offense,” Washington said. “Not that we weren’t in the past, but Kendall and a couple of guys here will definitely give us some different things that we can do, some versatility.”
Still, Washington has no specific demands regarding the number of times he sees the ball. “I’m not going in with any expectations,” Washington said. “Like I said before last year, whenever my number is called, I just want to be there to answer the door. In any type of situation we get in, I want to be the guy that’s accountable and a guy that’s picking other guys up — whether it’s physically or mentally.”
If running back Chris Johnson can return to form and if Britt can return to health, the Titans could indeed be explosive on offense, making them the ultimate competition for the Houston Texans, who took the AFC South last year based largely on their newly-suffocating defense.