Emotions are rarely felt in NFL preseason games. The times starts, the starters play vanilla football for a few series, and the bench warmers come in to waste the time away. Titans coach Mike Vrabel admitted as much in his Sunday press conference saying he didn’t spend much time on the second half tape.
When Titans tight end Delanie Walker caught his first touchdown pass since 2017 against the Patriots in preseason game two on Saturday, the emotions of Nissan Stadium could be felt through the TV, and I couldn’t help but swell with pride for him. Walker is the arguably the best Titans free agent signing ever, and his return from a brutal injury in 2018 left fans with a familiar sense of comfort that whenever Marcus Mariota needs a play, he can always find 82.
It was a throw that both QB and TE have made a bunch over the course of five years. A seem up the middle with a perfect throw and beautiful toe-tapping catch. Mariota and Walkers chemistry was evident in those three short drives and something that gives Titans fans both nostalgia and hope for this 2019 season.
Walker has been one of Mariota’s loudest supporters since the QB started facing criticism two years ago. Every time he’s asked, Walker raves about his connection with Mariota and how they’re constantly on the same page. While that’s not the case with every receiver the Titans have had over the last five years, it’s obvious that Walker isn’t blowing smoke. He and Mariota have an immense respect for one another and an undeniable chemistry on the field.
It goes both ways, too. Mariota was asked about having Walker back this year and the QB raved about Walker. Talking about the difference he makes on the field and how much easier Walker makes his job. He speaks to the fact that he’s been throwing to Walker for five years now and how helpful that is to their chemistry as a QB and receiver.
The conversation about Delanie Walker has shifted since he first signed with Tennessee. The Titans needed a reliable tight end for young quarterback Jake Locker and he was. Then they needed a tight end who could make a difference in a game and he did. Walker didn’t stop there, though. He continued on to become one of the best tight ends in the NFL and arguably the best tight end in Franchise history; a high honor considering he’s competing with Titans great Frank Wycheck.
Walkers return on Saturday allowed fans to breath deep—knowing they have the same guy at TE that has helped their team reach new heights, and knowing that he’ll be there for their quarterback whenever he needs it and more.