How a low-ranking WR builds QB rapport

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Titans are currently seven deep with NFL-caliber receivers.

If Kevin Walter's stint on the physically unable to perform list due to a back injury ends in time for the regular season, they’ll have to sort through eight.

They started 2012 with four on the roster and Kenny Britt serving a one-game suspension. They finished 2012 with six on the roster and one on IR. They haven't started a season with more than six receivers since 2007.

Tuesday, at their last full practice before their preseason opener Thursday night against Washington, I found myself wondering about how a receiver not working near the top best prepares himself to work with the starting quarterback.

Michael Preston, for example, is listed fourth at the X receiver spot, behind Britt, Damian Williams and Justin Hunter.

The bulk of Preston’s reps come with backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing the passes, not Jake Locker.

“It’s having a better understanding of what Jake likes from the receivers that go before me or just talking through routes with him when we are doing one-on-ones or pat-and-go drills,” Preston said. “Ryan does good job directing me where I need to be as well, being a veteran.

“I watch how guys get open for Jake and how he puts the ball for them. I’m the same type of frame as Justin. If he throws a ball to Justin and that’s how he likes his routes run, I would like to imitate that same thing and get in that same area for him. That’s just how I look at the game, something that goes on behind the scenes for me.”

Locker needs to build chemistry with everyone he can. But it’s natural that the team’s top receivers like Britt and Nate Washington are going to get more reps with him in team situations and in the first-team offense’s limited work Thursday night against the Redskins.

“You obviously aren’t going to have the opportunity to built that chemistry with everybody, just because you don’t have enough reps,” Locker said. “But you do what you can to build some kind of rapport with every guy out there so that you have a situation where you can go out there with any guy at any position and feel comfortable.”

Barring injury, I don't see a scenario for Preston to advance past any of the five guys ahead of him -- Britt, Washington, Kendall Wright, Williams and Hunter.

He'll work on building the rapport and making decisions about how many receivers to keep as difficult as possible.

And if he winds up elsewhere, he'll do the same thing wherever that may be.