Rishard Matthews emerged as one of Marcus Mariota’s top targets in the receiver's first season with the Titans, setting career highs in catches, receiving yards and touchdowns with one game still to play.
But he wasn’t happy through the first several weeks of the season, when he was splitting starts and sharing playing time with Andre Johnson, a future Hall of Fame receiver who signed with the Titans on the eve of training camp.
“I was pissed. At the end of the day, I didn’t come here to sit on the bench or sit on the sideline,” Matthews told The Tennessean on Friday. “I didn’t come here to rotate with anybody. I signed here for a reason. So it definitely pissed me off.”
Matthews, who spent the previous four years with the Dolphins before signing a three-year, $15 million contract with the Titans as a free agent in March, leads the team with 831 receiving yards and eight touchdowns this season, and his 56 catches trail only Pro Bowl tight end Delanie Walker, who has 60. Matthews will have a chance to boost those numbers in the regular-season finale against the Texans on Sunday at Nissan Stadium.
Matthews did get off to a bit of a slow start this year and this was likely a reason. Matthews caught his first touchdown of the season in a blowout victory against the Dolphins. It began a stretch of seven scores in eight games. Johnson, meanwhile, didn’t have a catch in the three games after that victory against Miami and abruptly retired on Oct. 31, just eight games into his tenure with the Titans.
"Going back to his days at the University of Miami, Andre was one of the most impressive wide receivers I've scouted. He had a professional approach to the game both on and off the field and in my opinion is one of the best to have played the great game. I enjoyed getting to know and work with him in his time with our team. He certainly contributed to this team -- making the game-winning catch at Detroit and his daily interaction with the young wide receivers. We wish him nothing but the best moving forward in whatever endeavors he chooses."
Johnson, who entered the NFL out of the University of Miami as the No. 3 overall pick in the 2003 draft, spent the first 12 years of his career with the Houston Texans before playing with the Indianapolis Colts last season and the Titans this year. In 14 seasons, he racked up 1,062 catches for 14,185 yards and 70 touchdowns. Those figures rank ninth, 10th, and 33rd in NFL history. From a fantasy perspective, this news solidifies the snaps for Rishard Matthews (who played 87% of the snaps in Week 8), Tajae Sharpe (55%) and Kendall Wright (39%). The Titans are using multiple-TE sets extensively, but it certainly helped that they had the lead for the whole game against the Jaguars. Moving forward, Matthews seems to be the receiver to own in Tennessee, with Wright continuing to be highly productive in a limited role.
Friday, September 9, 2016, 5:48pm
So which receiver – or receivers – might benefit from Green-Beckham’s departure, keeping in mind the Titans are not likely to keep five on the final roster?
As for the veterans, it clears more room for guys like 31-year-old Harry Douglas and 35-year-old Andre Johnson. It seemed unlikely the Titans would keep both veterans – and that still may be the case – but it’s easier to make a case for that happening now.
The DGB trade could also breathe new life into Justin Hunter, a 2013 second-round pick who – like DGB – has suffered from inconsistency. Another player who benefits is Tre McBride, the second-year player out of William & Mary who spent last season on the practice squad. He wasn’t receiving much attention at the start of camp, but has come on strong over the last few weeks.
Sunday, July 31, 2016, 1:53pm
Justin Hunter knew well before training camp that the wide receiver position was going to be one of the team’s most competitive.
Now that the team has signed veteran Andre Johnson, well, it only makes securing a roster spot all the more challenging for Hunter.
“The competition builds and builds and builds,” Hunter said. “We’ve got more depth, another great receiver that’s on the team, so there’s a lot of pressure on a lot of people. You have to work a little harder and focus a little more, study a little harder, too.”
A second-round pick in 2013, Hunter isn’t accustomed to having to battle for job security, the story said. But he’s averaged just 22 catches over his first three seasons, and the fact that the Titans now have a glut of wide receivers – the group includes Johnson, Kendall Wright, Rishard Matthews, Dorial Green-Beckham, Tajae Sharpe and Harry Douglas – could leave Hunter vulnerable. In Saturday’s first day of training camp, Hunter often ran with the team’s third or fourth group of wide receivers.
Some say that receiver Roddy White’s expression of reluctance to sign with a non-contender means he has no viable options anywhere. That’s apparently not the case.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, White was — and still is — on the radar in Tennessee. But he won’t accept a minimum-salary offer. Andre Johnson did, which is why he was recently signed.
Johnson’s deal was not guaranteed, so the Titans can kick tires and, if they decide he can’t truly help the team, move on. Possibly back to White the story suggested. Other teams to watch for White, according to the story, include the obvious dot-connection to the Buccaneers, where former Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter is the head coach.
Johnson, 35, starred in his first 12 NFL seasons with the Texans before struggling last season with the Colts. Although he appears on the downside of his career, the 6-3, 229-pound veteran will still likely provide a reliable target for second-year quarterback Marcus Mariota and boost a Titans receiving corps that rated among the least productive in the league last season.
Johnson didn't seem to have much left with the Colts last year. And in a recent news story, one of four unnamed team execs said Johnson's upside was in some kind of limited role because of his size. Two of the four execs said he was done while one other said he could serve as a mentor. This particular story said Titans coach Mike Mularkey was impressed by Johnson's productivity in a limited role last season, because 24 of his 41 catches went for 10 yards or longer. It's doubtful Johnson is going to have a huge fantasy value but it's worth monitoring what his role is going to be with Tennessee.
As the clock ticks toward Saturday’s opening practice of camp for the Tennessee Titans, the roster stands at 89.
Will they use the 90th spot to sign veteran receiver Andre Johnson (35), who was one of several players who visited the team Tuesday?
That remains unclear, and a source said nothing is pending.
The author spoke to four personnel executives with other teams. Two of the four executives pretty much said Johnson is done. One other thought he could mentor, and the fourth said Johnson's size could at least be used in a limited role. From a fantasy perspective, none of the four made it seem like Johnson could have a big role with an NFL team, which doesn't bode well for fantasy purposes.
Tuesday, July 26, 2016, 7:00pm
The 35-year-old wide receiver visited the Tennessee Titans on Tuesday, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported, via a source informed of Johnson's whereabouts.
No signing is imminent, per Rapoport, as the two sides are simply feeling each other out at this point.
No player on the Colts’ 90-man roster flashed more in recent weeks than Hilton. And no player has to be more excited about the return of No. 12 than No. 13, whose skill set was hampered last season after Luck went down and the downfield threat disappeared. This spring, with Luck back under center, Hilton has starred.
“T.Y.’s had as good an offseason as anybody,” Pagano gushed a few weeks back. “I’ve never seen this guy practice as fast as he is right now and compete at the level he is.”
Hilton admitted he was ticked off about last season, about watching the playoffs from home for the first time in his four-year career. When he returned to the field, he dueled Pro Bowl cornerback Vontae Davis for much of the spring. Hilton won more than his fair share.
Also of note: Hilton is no longer just the No. 1 target. He’s the elder statesman in the receivers room for the first time in his career — Andre Johnson and Reggie Wayne owned that distinction in years past. Hilton must deliver this season, and he knows it. Watch out. No. 13 could be in line for a career year.
In 22 games over the past two seasons with a healthy Andrew Luck, Hilton has averaged 5.1 catches for 86 yards and 0.45 TD. Those are fringe WR1 numbers in PPR formats and solid WR1 numbers in standard leagues. With Luck back under center, Hilton should have a bounce back season after finishing #22 in both formats.
Donte Moncrief finished his second season with 64 catches for 733 yards and six touchdowns, but his numbers were a bit depressed due to the midseason loss of Andrew Luck. In seven games with Luck, Moncrief averaged 4.6 catches 50 yards and 0.71 TD (on 7.7 targets per game), which extrapolates to a 73-802-11 season. Fantasy-wise, that’s about what Michael Crabtree scored as the #19 receiver in standard formats. With Andre Johnson out of the way, Moncrief’s playing time and targets should increase a bit. He’s a serious threat to break out in his third season. Phillip Dorsett figures to step into the WR3 role, and will be fantasy relevant assuming the Colts' offense returns to form.
Friday, December 18, 2015, 6:32pm
Colts WR Donte Moncrief (toe, questionable) missed practice all week and is questionable for Week 15. Moncrief reportedly participated in a light practice on Friday, but officially he remained out. If he’s out or limited, Andre Johnson and Phillip Dorsett would both see an increase in playing time. Remember, Johnson had his best fantasy line of the year (6-77-2) against his old team back in Week 5, and Matt Hasselbeck was under center. The Colts play early on Sunday.
Thursday, December 17, 2015, 6:06pm
Colts WR Donte Moncrief (toe) missed practice again Thursday. Moncrief was spotted in a walking boot on Wednesday, so he’s suddenly iffy for Week 15. He says he’s going to practice on Friday, but we’ll see. If he’s out, Andre Johnson and Phillip Dorsett would both see an increase in playing time. Remember, Johnson had his best fantasy line of the year (6-77-2) against his old team back in Week 5, and Matt Hasselbeck was under center.
Wednesday, December 16, 2015, 6:21pm
Colts WR Donte Moncrief (toe) did not practice Wednesday. Moncrief was spotted in a walking boot on Wednesday, so he’s suddenly iffy for Week 15. If he’s out, Andre Johnson and Phillip Dorsett would both see an increase in playing time. Remember, Johnson had his best fantasy line of the year (6-77-2) against his old team back in Week 5, and Matt Hasselbeck was under center.
Friday, December 4, 2015, 6:28pm
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