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Tennessee Titans’ Chris Moore looked sharp in AJ Brown’s No. 11. Then he realized what he’d done

Chris Moore didn’t realize the target he’s put on his back until it was too late.

The Tennessee Titans head into Year 2 of the post-AJ Brown era with a receiving corps of unproven youngsters, journeyman veterans and special teams aces with hope. The only significant change the Titans made to their league-worst receiving corps between 2022 and 2023 was releasing veteran Robert Woods and replacing him with Moore, trading out Woods’ 527 yards and two touchdowns for Moore’s 548 yards and two touchdowns.

Last season was a career year for Moore. He more than doubled his career highs in receptions and receiving yards seven years into his NFL career. And now, in his age-30 season, he comes into the Titans’ receiver room wearing No. 11, the jersey Brown left behind when the Titans traded him.

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“I’m not going to lie. At first, I didn’t even think about that,” Moore joked. “Nick (Westbrook-Ikhine) had number 15 and I needed another teen number. And then 11 looked smooth on me so that’s what I picked. I realized after what I did.”

Moore doesn’t have as many yards or touchdowns in 89 career games as Brown did in his first season with the Philadelphia Eagles. And he joins a receiver room consisting of Westbrook-Ikhine, 2022 rookies Treylon Burks and Kyle Philips, seventh-round pick Colton Dowell and unproven commodities Racey McMath, Mason Kinsey and Reggie Roberson, none of whom have had career-best seasons as good as Moore’s. 2022 season.

Asked point blank whether he believes his receiving corps is enough, Titans offensive coordinator Tim Kelly said yes. He prefers to focus on the positive. He knows these players have recently flashed potential, like Burks against Green Bay and Cincinnati and Westbrook-Ikhine against Washington and Denver. It’s his job to put them in a position to do more than flash.

Kelly doesn’t see those moments as outliers. He sees them as guideposts, treasure maps to more passing success. Take the glimmers of what worked and integrate them into a scheme that incorporates the Titans’ other strengths.

“When you look good, it’s just being able to reinforce what they’re capable of,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel added. “But we have to eliminate some of the mistakes that are made and if we’re talking about receivers we have to make sure we’re playing to their strengths and what their route craft is and that we’re making sure we’re asking them to do things they can do.”

How to get the best out of the receivers

Philips said after Tuesday’s OTA practice that he spent the offseason working on getting bigger. He’s added around seven pounds, what he calls “armor,” aiming to be more durable. Burks spoke at length before OTAs about how he’s better conditioned to handle the rigors of an NFL season. Moore said he’s been impressed with Burks, Philips and Westbrook-Ikhine in how willing they are to improve their craft.

But even Moore said it’s hard to get a read on how good the unit is right now. He said he ignores the pundits and analysts who rank the Titans’ receiving corps among the worst in the NFL. Because he thinks there’s a difference between putting up big numbers and putting the team in a position to win.

“All we can really do personally is just work every day and try to win games, because that’s all that matters at the end of the day,” Moore said. “If we win games, it doesn’t matter what the numbers are.”

If quarterback Ryan Tannehill and running back Derrick Henry stay healthy and the offensive line improves and the tight ends continue to grow and the defense does its job, the Titans have a roster built to win without a 600-yard receiver.

But if any of those factors don’t work out, and the receivers don’t cure their inconsistencies or injury bugs, it’ll be awfully hard to execute Moore’s vision and win without big numbers.

Nick Suss is the Titans beat writer for The Tennessean. Contact Nick at [email protected]. Follow Nick on Twitter @nicksuss.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: How Tennessee Titans are trying to reinvent (mostly) unchanged WR room

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