ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Pool photo by George Walker IV via AP / Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill passes during a June 10 practice in Nashville.

NASHVILLE — Since the Tennessee Titans traded for Julio Jones last week, the phrase "pick your poison" has been used a lot to describe what it's going to be like to face their offense this season.

That's the effect of adding a seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver to a unit already featuring A.J. Brown — a rising star at the same position — and running back Derrick Henry, the NFL's rushing leader the past two seasons.

The man tasked with distributing the football is pumping the brakes on the enthusiasm and high expectations.

"A ton of quote unquote potential, but at this point potential doesn't really get you a whole lot," quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. "We have to put in the work and put the time in and ultimately go out and make the plays on Sundays."

The Titans have ranked among the NFL's best offenses since Tannehill took over as their starting quarterback in October 2019, with his part in the turnaround leading to him being named the league's comeback player of the year that season. Last season, they tied for second in the NFL by averaging 396.4 yards a game and fourth by averaging 30.7 points a game. They scored at least 30 points in 10 games, reaching 40 or more in five.

Now the Titans have Jones, the man with the most receiving yards in the NFL since 2011, his rookie season.

"Obviously, you know what he will bring to the table," Tannehill said. "I've seen big things out of him his whole career, so that's all exciting. But at the end of the day, we have to get on the same page here this year and make sure we're doing everything we can to go out and make plays on Sunday."

Tannehill and Jones have worked to make the most of their short time together since the trade for the former Atlanta Falcons receiver was announced June 6. Last season, Tannehill — a top-1o draft pick in 2012 who spent his first seven seasons with the Miami Dolphins — threw a career-high 33 touchdown passes. Only a nagging hamstring injury in 2020 snapped Jones' streak of six straight seasons with more than 1,300 receiving yards.

Then there's Henry, the fourth man in NFL history to run for at least 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns in consecutive seasons, joining Shaun Alexander, Terrell Davis and Larry Johnson in that category. Henry is coming off a season in which he ran for 2,027 yards, fifth in NFL history.

Henry called Jones a dynamic player, "one of if not the best receiver in the league." That means Jones will be respected by opposing defenses, but Henry didn't want to peek ahead to how that might affect the number of defenders he sees crowding the line to stop him.

"We just try to put it all together while we're here and just try to work and try to make each other better ..." Henry said. "He likes to work hard, I like to work hard, and that's all we try to bring to the table as far as being teammates."

Todd Downing, who was promoted to offensive coordinator in the offseason, said there are times to get excited about what an offense can do with Jones and his skills. Downing also made clear the Titans aren't changing their foundation or scheme for the addition of one player.

"I'm excited that he has history in a scheme like this in his time in Atlanta, and I think that that's going to help transition a little bit and it's going to make it a little bit easier for us to highlight some of those skills," Downing said.

Brown will have to wait until training camp to practice with his new teammate. The third-year pro is recovering from offseason surgery on both knees and did not take part in practices at the Titans' minicamp this week. He said he was bored when he started his social media campaign for Jones to come to Tennessee.

In his budding career, Brown has 122 catches for 2,126 yards and 19 touchdowns, making him the 11th player in NFL history to have 1,000 receiving yards each of his first two seasons. Playing with Jones will be "real fun," he said.

"We talk about it all the time," Brown said. "Who are they going to try to take away?"

First comes lots of work before that potential fun starts on Sept. 12, when the Arizona Cardinals visit Tennessee in the season opener for both teams.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT