Jon Robinson and the Titans have shown over the past several years that a player’s draft position and pay aren’t a free ticket to a roster spot, and that should wake up rookie wide receiver Dez Fitzpatrick.
When asked how much more the wide receiver needed to do to see the field more, Vrabel responded, “A lot.” On many teams, that comment wouldn’t mean much. It could be interpreted as a motivational tactic for a rookie player who’s not picking up the offense quickly enough or a simple truth bomb from a coach in a press conference. Either way, fourth-round picks usually have a cushion for error heading into their rookie season. An investment was made, after all.
The Titans aren’t like many teams in that regard, though. They’re not afraid to move on from mistakes. They gave their 2020 first-round draft pick just one season before cutting ties. The Isaiah Wilson situation was unique, of course, but second-round pick Kevin Dodd found a similar fate after just his second season. Jon Robinson admits his mistakes, and fast.
That’s not all that’s working against Fitzpatrick, though. He’s also with a group of wide receivers that love to compete and showed it in the preseason opener against the Atlanta Falcons. Receiver Chester Rodgers had a beautiful punt return (something the Titans have struggled with over the past few years) and Cam Batson caught a nice touchdown pass, which was slightly underthrown from quarterback Logan Woodside. Batson also has familiarity in the system, and is used to competing for back-end roster spots.
Right now, the top three spots are seemingly set in AJ Brown, Julio Jones, and Josh Reynolds. After that, the competition sets in, and Fitzpatrick apparently has done much to set himself apart. If he has, it’s been in the opposite direction he wishes.
Oftentimes, the final depth chart for wide receivers is unpredictable, because we don’t know how many the Titans will keep on the roster. Do they take an extra receiver in favor of an offensive lineman for example? After watching those groups on Friday night, I’m not sure. What about on defense? Players have to make cases for themselves. They have to make it hard for the team to cut them.
It’s a numbers game at the wide receiver position, and that’s another thing Fitzpatrick is working against. When the final cuts come in, the coaches and general manager will ask themselves, “Has this player done anything that makes it impossible for us to cut him?” So far, seemingly, the answer regarding Dez Fitzpatrick is no.
The preseason is far from over, and there’s still time for Fitzpatrick to string together some good days, but time is of the essence, and the Titans have shown that they’re not scared to cut players that other teams may hesitate to do so. The Time for Dez Fitzpatrick to show what he has is now.