Of all the things that went wrong for the Titans in Sunday's loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, there was one things that went absolutely right.
That was the play of wide receiver A.J. Brown, who went over 100 yards for the sixth time in his 20-game career. Brown caught six passes Sunday from Ryan Tannehill and tied his career high in receiving yards with 153. Brown also had a 73-yard touchdown that began Tennessee's comeback in the game and proved to be their best weapon on a day where Derrick Henry was held to 75 yards on 20 carries by the stingy Steelers defense.
“I think we were just needing a big play,” Brown said of the in-route that he turned into a touchdown with his run after catch. “I think that fast track, that score kind of gave us some boost. You know, that’s what we needed.”
Indeed, what the Titans needed for years and finally found in Brown is an explosive true No. 1 receiver who has the ability to not only win on deep passes, but can take the short and medium passes in stride and run in the open field.
Brown has been compared a bit as a wide receiver version of Derrick Henry, as a player who can be hard to bring down in the open field once he hits his stride.
“He’s got really good play strength. He's got really good play speed out on the field, in pads, equipment, with the ball in his hands. That's something that you've seen from Derrick and A.J. , to be able to take those short gains or a run that you may not think it's going to go as far as it does, and they've been able to break them. We'll need to continue to do that and improve in other areas,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said.
The other part of Brown's approach that the Titans no doubt find refreshing is that despite his mix of confidence and ability, Brown has none of the diva approach that often manifests itself at the wide receiver position – especially when star players don't feel like they receiver enough touches.
Brown, on the other hand, seems to keep a team approach first, and pointed to that in the wake of Sunday's loss, saying that the Titans as a team are good, but still must improve.
“We’re a play away. In this league, you’ve just got to keep playing. You’ve got to keep fighting. Regardless of the game, you don’t know who is going to win. Regardless of what the stats say, 5-0, 0-5. It don’t matter. We’re in the NFL. These guys are really good. We’re good,” Brown said. “It’s the competitive edge, the details that’s going to show up every time and give the winning edge. Comparing? I think we’re close. I think we’ve got to clean up some stuff of course, but it’s still early in the year. We don’t try to get caught up into 5-0 and all that stuff, like undefeated. We’re just trying to win. 1-0 every week, you know. That’s my mindset. That’s our mindset, and today we fell short but it was a play away.
“That’s a really good team, like I said. You cannot spot a good team 27 points and expect to win. This is not a video game, you know? I think we’re OK. We’re going to go back and we’re going to get to work. Hammer out the details and we’re going to keep moving forward.”
The Titans waived linebacker Will Compton on Monday from the 53-man roster. The Titans chose Compton over David Long when it came time to select their actives for the game against Pittsburgh.
In releasing Compton, who is in his second stint with the team, Tennessee has Long, special teamer Nick Dzubnar and practice squad veteran Daren Bates available as backup inside linebackers.
Vrabel would not say how close Adoree' Jackson was to being activated in time for yesterday's game with the Steelers. The cornerback has been out all season with a knee injury, but was designated to return and practiced all last week.
When asked if Jackson could play Sunday against Cincinnati, Vrabel took a wait-and-see approach.
“I wouldn't say too close or too far away. I think that it just wasn't there. Hopefully the extra week will give him an advantage to be able to be with us. We'll see how that goes throughout the week, what it looks like when we practice on Wednesday,” Vrabel said.
The Titans could use Jackson as rookie cornerback Kristian Fulton left the game yesterday with a knee injury and did not return in the second half.