Tennessee Titans still aren’t sold on Dez Fitzpatrick as NFL season nears

Dez Fitzpatrick, Tennessee Titans (Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports)
Dez Fitzpatrick, Tennessee Titans (Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports) /

Okay, here are a couple of serious questions. How many times have you constructed a Tennessee Titans 53-man depth chart in your own head? How many times did you place rookie wide receiver Dez Fitzpatrick at the bottom of said depth chart or leave him off of the team entirely?

At the time of this story being written and published, the Tennessee Titans have less than 48 hours to trim their active roster down to the league-mandated 53 men (the deadline is 4 pm EST on Tuesday, August 31st), and the more you think about it, there isn’t a ton of effort needed for arguing why Dez Fitzpatrick should be left off of it entirely.

The Tennessee Titans aren’t seeing what they need to see from rookie Dez Fitzpatrick.

Coming into the 2021 NFL season, there was a slight buzz building around this Tennessee Titans wide receiver corps, and that was before Julio Jones was added. Fitzpatrick was a huge reason for that.

The six-foot-two, 210-pound former Louisville Cardinal standout racked up 154 receptions for 2,589 yards, and 21 trips to the end zone. So far, in camp, we’ve heard terms like ‘underachieving’. Titans head coach spoke on the need to see more from his talented rookie.

Three preseason games are in the books, and based on what Coach Vrabel is saying, Tennessee’s leadership structure is still looking for more. Here’s some of what he said in a Sunday afternoon talk with the media.

"He didn’t block like we expected him to block last night, but he ran a really cool route and Matt (Barkley) threw him a great ball, and that was one thing that we’ve been preaching on these guys about the route craft on some of those overs. Dez had a really cool route, and I think that’s something that showed improvement. I think he recognized it was match coverage and ran a really good route, and Matt got him the ball."

Here’s more from Coach.

"But there were just some other examples last night of finishing or playing when you don’t have the football in your hand that we have a high expectation for our receivers, whether that’s on a screen or somebody else catches the football and you’re trying to do everything you can to get them as most yards as possible."

After getting on the field much later than you’d expect a fourth-round draft choice to get on the field in the Titans’ first preseason game (and seeing zero targets), there were obvious reasons for concern. To his credit, Dez responded.

He hauled in two receptions for 30 yards and scored his first touchdown versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tennessee’s second preseason game. He hauled in one reception for 28 yards in the third and final game versus the Chicago Bears. That still isn’t enough. If we’re being honest, guys like Mason Kinsey, Cameron Batson, and Chester Rodgers are just better right now.

So, here we are. The Titans are faced with a dilemma. Do they part ways with a better talent to keep Dez around? Do they utilize one more roster spot than they’d want to in an attempt to keep him around?

Trending. Titans 53-man roster projection ahead of final cuts. light

Placing him on the practice squad almost assures another team will swoop in and steal him, but if we’re being frank, if Tennessee hadn’t drafted Fitzpatrick in the fourth round, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. Dez, at this point of his career, isn’t one of the six best wide receivers on Tennessee’s roster.

Now, are they willing to wait and see if he can be? That’s another story. We won’t have to wait much longer to read the second chapter. The deadline for the Tennessee Titans to make a decision is 4 p.m. EST on Tuesday.