When Donnie Avery joined the Tennessee Titans just before the fourth week of the season, the team was quick to temper expectations on the former St. Louis Rams standout, who had caught 100 passes his first two years in the NFL.
Coming off a knee injury and having been let go by the Rams in final cuts, Avery has struggled to find a place in the Titans rotation even with out Kenny Britt at the top of the room. Six games into his tenure as a Titan, Avery still has yet to make his first reception for the team. On Sunday, the ball that Matt Hasselbeck had intercepted was intended for Avery, who broke a different direction than the ball went.
“Just coming in on the fly, I knew it was going to take me a little while to grasp the concept of the offense and getting some playing time,” Avery said. “But at the same time, these guys are doing their jobs. They've been here since day one, since training camp. I couldn't expect to try to come in there and take their jobs.”
Hasselbeck says the Titans want to get Avery involved, but there have been few reps to go around thus far.
“I think we want to. He gets us yardage when he's out there. It's just usually not in the form of a catch. It' been pass interference,” Hasselbeck said. “He's real fast, so at least the times we thrown to him, he's run by people and there have been a few flags.
“There have been times when we've thrown to him that we weren't sharp or crisp, like this past week, but if you do it in practice, there's a chance it could happen in the game. If you're not getting the snaps in practice, it just makes it that much tougher.”
Avery is still hoping to contribute in the final seven games of the season.
“There's seven games left in the season and it's all about being patient and being a team player. I don't want to bring any negativity to the team as far as me not getting the ball,” Avery said. “As long as we're winning, I'm happy with that, whether it's contributing on scout team for the defense or going in there blocking or whatever.”
Munchak said that Avery coming aboard late has obviously put him behind.
“You bring a guy in as late as we did because of injuries, and we knew we were gonna get the other guys reps, with Damian stepping up to start and with Hawkins doing well and trying to get him a lot. A lot of time we're only in two receivers. The young guys have to play if they're going to get better,” Munchak said.
Offensive coordinator Chris Palmer said Avery could be on the bubble to be on the 45-man active roster on game day.
“We know he has good speed, but in utilizing that speed, we've been fortunate that we've been able to dress him because of injuries, but at some point we're going to have to make a decision as to whether to dress him (for the game as an active player) or not to,” he said.