Antonio Andrews, Chase Coffman embrace popularity as underdogs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Skill players at the bottom of their position groups tend to create intrigue.

Particularly at the start of the season, many fans seem especially intrigued by a newer running back, a receiver or a tight end. They might be less proven, but like the backup quarterback, they can pose an intriguing alternative.

Maybe this low-ranking guy, given his chance, is better than some of the guys ahead of him.

I might have proximity bias, but my sense is that this tends to really be the be the case in Nashville.

Undrafted receiver Drew Bennett was wildly popular and panned out as a productive player. So did a seventh-round cornerback, Cortland Finnegan.

Running backs Skip Hicks and Jackie Battle, tight ends Matthew Mulligan and Jack Doyle (currently with the Colts) and receiver Michael Preston were all popular beyond their talent, I thought.

I’ve fielded more questions about Antonio Andrews, the fourth running back, and Chase Coffman, the fourth or fifth tight end, than I have about the guys ahead of them.

I can understand it more with Andrews, who has local ties and uncertain players in front of him in Bishop Sankey, Terrance West and Dexter McCluster.

Andrews is in his second year. He played at Fort Campbell High School in Kentucky and at Western Kentucky, both of which are not far from Nashville.

“When you’ve got a guy who’s hard-working, that stands out above anything,” Andrews said. “Fans, they’ve been there at training camp, they see who’s working hard, they find people they like. … If they feel like they like me, I’m rocking with that, too. I get a lot of love. You can’t beat it. It’s been a perfect place.”

Coffman is a very good pass-catcher. But the team doesn’t believe he’s on a similar level as a blocker or special-teamer, things a low-ranking tight end needs to do.

Many fans seem to think of Coffman as a youngster, though he’s actually heading into his sixth year and has been released six times.

He said he hasn’t noticed his status as a well-liked underdog as much as I have, but did react to the idea that he and Andrews are popular.

“It’s a good thing. I think we both did good jobs in the preseason and kind of made names for ourselves,” Coffman said. “Having the fans on our side is a great thing. Hopefully being a likable underdog turns into being a likable every-down player.”