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Maybe the trade of wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham is the catalyst that finally ignites things for Justin Hunter.
After all, Hunter, who is clearly on the Tennessee roster bubble in this training camp, had four catches in the second half of the Titans preseason loss to Carolina for 54 yards. But, then again, Hunter was targeted a total of seven times in the game (plus a missed two-point conversion). Despite what Mike Mularkey termed as improvement from Hunter, the Titans coach still wants and needs to see more from him in the final two preseason games and in practices if he wants to be a part of the final 53.
Mularkey's assessment was brutally honest of the 2013 second-round pick, who has battled injuries and inconsistency almost from the time the Titans traded up to select him three years ago.
"I think he has responded since the trade. I think he's studying more. There are still things in that game he fell down on another route," Mularkey said. "We were trying to take a shot with him, and he fell down on it, those types of things. The two-point play, it wasn't a great throw, but you'd like to see him somehow come down with that play. But other than that he did some good things in the game. He caught the ball over the middle. He's trying. He knows where he is, what is status is and he knows there's a lot of demands on him."
Yet, Hunter still had some costly mistakes, such as flattening out an out-route that caused a pass to be incomplete because he came down out of bounds with the football.
"That route is not designed to be flattened off like that, so he put himself in that position to where basically the ball had to go out of bounds," Mularkey said. "The route dictated that. If he had stayed at a higher angle, that's a route you can catch and run with it. That route was not good."
Those types of issues got the highly talented Green-Beckham dealt to the Eagles for only a backup offensive lineman.
The question now is can Hunter undo three seasons worth of up-and-down play and right himself over the next two weeks in order to retain his roster spot.