Dowell Loggains had the feeling that Justin Hunter knew a little about the Tennessee Titans’ offense before he ever got a look at the playbook.
“There is a little bit of a carryover in terminology, I think, because of the Lane Kiffin-Norm Chow hangover, a little bit,” the Titans offensive coordinator said last month on the eve of the team’s rookie orientation. “So he’ll know a little bit of it.”
Loggains worked with Chow when the latter was the Titans offensive coordinator from 2005-07 after a successful stint at USC, where he worked with Kiffin, who spent one year as head coach at the University of Tennessee. Hunter, the Titans’ second-round pick this year, did not play for Kiffin during his three years with the Volunteers, but it’s likely that bits of Kiffin’s offense remained in the UT playbook during that time.
Now that he has the job, Loggains has implemented some of Chow’s offense into his own scheme and, therefore, figured some of the terminology would be familiar to Hunter.
More than ever, the Titans have to hope that is the case.
Hunter took care of an important piece of business Thursday when he agreed to terms on his first contract. The wide receiver has missed most of the three weeks organized team activities (OTAs), which conclude this week, because of an injury.
That means the bulk of Hunter’s progress in the offense to this point has been based on his ability to retain information without actually implementing it.
“He needs to do a great job right now getting mental reps, being into practice and making sure he learns a new offense and he’s on top of that so when he does get out here … that he’s at full speed,” Loggains said last week.
Hunter was a big part of UT’s offense during his time there. He was particularly involved last season when he caught 73 passes for 1,083 yards and nine touchdowns. Only one player in school history caught more passes in a single season.
The deal leaves three members of the Titans’ eight 2013 draft picks unsigned but does nothing to settle the issue of just what Hunter knows at this point.
“I’m not frustrated with it because we were able to see him at rookie minicamp,” Loggains said. “We spent a lot of time evaluating him when he was coming out.
“I’d love to see him out here, but it’s out of his control.”