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Tennessee Titans Football

Hawkins’ Return is a Win-Win for Titans’ Offense

Posted by Mike Keith on February 14, 2012 – 12:17 am

The announcement of Lavelle Hawkins’ new contract late last week was significant in two ways.

For the Titans, the re-signing of Hawkins ensures that they will have one more veteran in their wide receiver corps, another player who will know the offense the minute that the team steps back onto the field in April. Because of the way Hawkins played last November and December, that is a good thing.

For Hawkins, the rationale in why he wanted to re-sign with the Titans shows his continuing maturity, a maturity that is evident on and off the field.

That is significant because that maturity wasn’t always evident.

After a 2009 practice, Titans offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger was frustrated with Hawkins’ play. That frustration was obvious in one particular segment of practice, as Heimerdinger thought Hawkins might have some opportunities to contribute during an approaching game. Hawkins’ work on the practice field, however, did not inspire confidence in the veteran coach.

In our weekly production meeting with Heimerdinger, I asked the coach about what happened, trying to gain some insight into his view of Lavelle Hawkins.

Heimerdinger smiled the frustrated smile that many of us do as parents.

Heimerdinger liked Hawkins. It’s virtually impossible not to like the affable Hawkins. Heimerdinger wanted to see him succeed. He saw potential in the former California Bear. He saw the flashes of Hawkins’ talent.

But to paraphrase Heimerdinger, he could not trust Hawkins to be where he was supposed to be on certain plays. And so from 2008-2010, Hawkins only got on the field enough to catch 19 passes.

In 2011, a season-ending injury to Kenny Britt moved all of the receivers up one spot. That meant chances for everyone, including Hawkins. Sensing that this was his big moment, Hawkins made the most of his chance.

Hawkins caught at least one pass in the Titans’ final 15 games. Of his 47 catches, 23 went for first downs. 207 of his 470 receiving yards came after the catch. He scored his first career touchdown against Cincinnati.

Lavelle Hawkins had proven to be reliable.

In our final production of meeting of 2010, offensive coordinator Chris Palmer praised several of the Titans’ receivers for their improvement during 2011. Palmer heaped lavish praise on Hawkins because of number 87′s  improvement throughout the season.
Chris Palmer was proud of Lavelle Hawkins. Mike Heimerdinger would have been, too.

Hawkins’ 2011 season was four years in the making.

He gets what it took to get there and clearly understands what it will take to build on it. That’s why he re-signed with the Titans.

Hawkins could have rolled the dice and chosen to head into free agency next month. Maybe some team would have offered him a bigger contract and a bigger role. Maybe not.

But instead of spending the next month wondering where he might be in 2012, instead of taking trips in March, instead of seeing if he could get an extra couple hundred grand in salary, instead of trying to learn a new offense—Hawkins made it clear that he wanted to stay with the Tennessee Titans.

Impressive. A player who realizes that the grass—and the money—isn’t always greener somewhere else.

More impressive, a player who realizes that he needs to keep working if he’s going to reach his potential. His rationale in making the decision leads one to believe that he’s going to keep getting better.

Here’s what we know about NFL receiving corps—you need as many good players as possible. Guys are going to get hurt. Guys are going to get double-teamed. Guys are going to have off-days. The more good players that you have in the group, the better off that you are.

Ask the Giants. It wasn’t their star wide receivers who made the big catches in their two recent Super Bowl wins.

Not only did David Tyree have the miraculous, hold-the-ball-against-helmet catch to set up the winning touchdown in Super Bowl  XLII, but he also caught a touchdown pass earlier in the game. Tyree caught four passes for 35 yards during the 2007 regular season and never caught another pass after that Super Bowl.

This year’s Super Bowl hero, Mario Manningham, is much more accomplished than Tyree, but he was an unlikely hero on the game’s final drive for the Giants. His phenomenal 38 yard catch to spark Big Blue overshadowed an injury-plagued season that saw him catch just 39 passes and lose his starting spot.

It takes a bunch of receivers to make it work. It takes stars and role players. It takes fast guys and guys who know who to run routes. It takes five or six good football players who do different things.

Hawkins has proven that he is a good football player. He did it with hard work. He earned it.

The Titans may well add more talent at wide receiver through free agency and/or the draft. One more guy with extreme speed certainly would not hurt the Titans offense. I think personnel people call them “weapons”. Another “weapon” couldn’t hurt.

But Lavelle Hawkins’ decision to stay with the Titans and the Titans’ decision to bring him back is a win-win for the Tennessee offense right now.


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Posted in titansonline.com Blog | 7 Comments »


7 Responses to “Hawkins’ Return is a Win-Win for Titans’ Offense”

  1. By franklin p jr on Feb 14, 2012 | Reply

    i agree i like hawkins and his attitude as a team player, im really confident in our offense this year, under locker OR hasslebeck…our defense is a different story though if we let all these players go….

  2. By johnny on Feb 22, 2012 | Reply

    I dont think this is a win win at all, just because someones a veteran deosnt mean they help you out. Id say damian williams showed himself better than hawkins. i dont miss one game, and ive seen hawkins drop as many balls as he catches. but either way improve our defense! thats whats wins championships, and we havent had a good defense since we went 13-3 with haynesworth. specially if you guys dont want finnegan back, which is a terrible idea. we help at every level on our defense, as long as chris gets back to his old way and kenny britt gets healthy and maintains his beast play our offense will be fine the way it is. DENFENSE TITANS! been preaching this for three years now.

  3. By EBTITAN on Feb 22, 2012 | Reply

    D WITH ATTITUDE!

  4. By THESEED on Feb 27, 2012 | Reply

    Munch is a fine coach! He is making the right decisions and I believe that will continue. I am very excited about next year! Our D is only going to get better as at one time we had 4 rookies start a game last year. If we have a draft even close to last years, we will be in great shape for years to come. Franchise Fin and get just a couple pieces on D and you’ll see a huge improvement. We do need a pass rusher. Get excited Titan Fans!

  5. By THESEED on Feb 27, 2012 | Reply

    Hawkins coming back is a good thing. I think he knows his role and is good at it. It was great to see him have a productive year. Also very cool to see him want to stay with the Titans. If Britt can stay healthy we are golden at WR. I would like to see 2 new g/c on this team. Love our T but we need an upgrade in the middle of the line. I see us getting 1 but if anybody can fix the line its our 2 HOF coaches who I trust. Our Offense should be a lot of fun to watch for years to come!

  6. By layne28 on Mar 4, 2012 | Reply

    We are now 4 player deep at WR a good QB either way we go Jake or Matt. If he is back in 2010 form we have the best NFL RB. Great versitile TE. Makes you feel good about the ofense. Maybe a new member on the o-line and a big back to complement CJ then we are superbowl calibur. Our defense needs help big mistake if we don’t sign FINNEGAN back.

  7. By Tory Higashi on Mar 27, 2013 | Reply

    Cornerback may not be the best position for you. It is one of the hardest and most demanding positions in terms of speed. If you’re better at tackling, you might want to be a safety or linebacker. If you’re good at catching you might want to consider being a receiver…

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