Earlier this offseason, Titans wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson said that Justin Hunter “can be the receiver that puts us in the playoffs and helps us win our division” this season.
That’s a pretty big responsibility for any receiver to handle, especially one who caught just 18 passes in a rookie season that saw him serve a one-game suspension for violating team rules. John Glennon of the Tennessean wondered earlier in the offseason if the expectations were too high for Hunter and Hunter’s teammate Michael Preston responded by comparing Hunter to one of the most prolific receivers in NFL history.
Preston called Hunter “a young Randy Moss” and explained this week why he put Hunter in such company.
“I know how great a player Randy Moss was, and in my mind, there’s no reason Justin can’t be the next greatest player … I just want to be there to support him. I know he’s going to grow, make a great leap this year, and impress the city and fans with his talent,” Preston said. “The one thing that stands out to me is the way he attacks the ball – and his leaping ability. Of course, he has to make the same type adjustments I had to make with height, staying low and being physical at the line. But the thing that stands out is the way he attacks the ball and how he’s able to make that big play at any moment.”
Comparisons to Moss are about as premature as calling a book the greatest you’ve ever read after the first word. While there’s plenty to like about Hunter’s size and athletic ability, he made nowhere near the impact that Moss made as a rookie and needs to show he has the hands and consistency it takes to have any career at the professional level.
For now, the talk sounds like the offseason hype machine running amok. Hunter will have plenty of chances to prove otherwise this season, though.