Jim Wyatt, Senior Writer/Editor, TitansOnline.com
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Titans receiver Rishard Matthews said he’s looking forward to welcoming WRs Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor. Matthews believes the competition will make the group better.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — He played in the WAC, not the MAC.
But like Titans first-round pick Corey Davis, Titans receiver Rishard Matthews faced doubters heading into the NFL from those who questioned his college competition.
Matthews, who played at Nevada, thinks the team’s fifth overall pick from Western Michigan will fit in just fine.
“All of that doesn’t matter when you get to this level,” Matthews said on Tuesday during a stop on the Titans Caravan in Spring Hill. “In some areas it does matter, but I know he is going to come into the league with a chip on his shoulder like I did, and he is going to show that he belongs.
“Guys that come from smaller schools, they understand the grind. A lot of guys come from big schools and they kind of get gifted things, so coming from a smaller school is good because he’ll come in with a chip on his shoulder and be ready to work right away. It makes you appreciate it more and makes you work even harder for what you want.”
Matthews, who led the Titans in receiving yards (945) and tied for the team lead in catches (65) in 2016, is looking forward to picking up where he left off last season, his first year in Tennessee after playing his first four seasons with the Dolphins.
He’ll have some new faces surrounding him.
In the NFL Draft, the Titans added two receivers early, beginning with Davis, who caught 97 balls for 1,500 yards and 19 touchdowns last season. His 5,278 career receiving yards is an FBS record, and he ranks second in NCAA history in career receiving touchdowns with 52.
The Titans also added Western Kentucky receiver Taywan Taylor in the third round. Taylor hauled in 253 passes for 4,234 yards and 41 touchdowns for the Hilltoppers.
“Anything to better the group, I am all for it,” Matthews said. “Hopefully those guys can come in and fit in right away and make a big impact. I am just looking forward to welcoming them and going to work.”
Matthews said he’s seen highlights of Davis, but hasn’t met him yet.
“I’ve heard he was a faster guy, and I think that will be good for our group, bringing in fast guys,” said Matthews, who was a seventh-round draft pick in the 2012 draft. “I’ve seen highlights on NFL Network and
he looks like an explosive player, he looks like his run after catch ability is really good. I think that is one of the reasons why we picked him. Hopefully he can come in and make an impact right away.”
In addition to Matthews, receivers Tajae Sharpe, Harry Douglas and Tre McBride also return for the Titans from last season. The Titans signed former Falcons receiver/return man Eric Weems this offseason, and former Vanderbilt receiver Jonathan Krause, who ended last season in the practice squad and was re-signed in January, is also in the mix.
Matthews said he’s been training to get ready for 2017. Following a productive first season in Tennessee, he believes his familiarity with quarterback Marcus Mariota and the offense should help moving forward.
“The more you get to build chemistry with your quarterback and teammates, it is always good,” Matthews said. “I think it is hopefully going to be an even better year, knowing the system. Now you can just go out there and play. I am looking for big things for us.”