NASHVILLE – In the six months since Tennessee Titans wide receiver Tajae Sharpe played his final rookie game, he’s seen his world change dramatically.
When he reports for training camp in a couple of weeks, Sharpe will be surrounded by an upgraded receiving corps, working under a new position coach, and looking to bounce back from an offseason foot injury that required surgery.
There’s also the uncertainty surrounding his role in an April fight outside a Nashville bar, an incident that’s led to lawsuits from both parties.
But Sharpe sounded optimistic earlier this week about what lies ahead, based in large part on the experience he gained last season – catching 41 passes for 522 yards and two touchdowns.
“First off, I’m just trying to get 100 percent healthy, and that’s going well,” Sharpe said on Thursday night while attending TBH Sports’ “Beyond the Game” Charity Gala in Nashville.
“There’s a lot of little things I learned from last year. I’m in a different place. I got to see things and I got my feet wet last year. I kind of know certain things to expect. That will help me in preparation this year.
“I just want to continue to work on my fundamentals, that’s the main focus. I want to continue to work on my body, continue to grow and be on the same page with (quarterback Marcus Mariota), so when we’re out there on the field, we can play fast together.”
The Titans overhauled the wide receiver position during the offseason, bidding farewell to Kendall Wright and others while adding first-round pick Corey Davis, third-round pick Taywan Taylor and free agent Eric Decker.
Sharpe will be working alongside much better talent than he did as a rookie, which means earning significant playing time – maybe even earning a roster spot – won’t come as easily as it did in 2016.
“It’s exciting, man, just being in the same wide receiver room as a couple of those guys,” Sharpe said. “It will be fun to have some new faces in the locker room.
“We’re all going to compete against each other, compete against the defense, learn from each other and make each other better. At the end of the day, we’re all on the same team and have the same goal. So we’ll build that brotherhood and that camaraderie in camp.”
Sharpe likes what he’s seen so far from new wide receivers coach Frisman Jackson, who replaced Bob Bratkowski. Jackson, a former NFL receiver, came to the Titans after spending the last two seasons as Temple University’s passing-game coordinator and wide receivers coach.
“He’s an excellent coach,” Sharpe said. “He brings a lot of energy every single day, brings that fire and passion to the game. He’s doing a heck of a job teaching us offense all over again, teaching us little tricks of the trade at the wide receiver position. He’s bringing that edge every day.”
Sharpe and teammate Sebastian Tretola were accused of assault in a May lawsuit, stemming from a fight that occurred on April 27, the first night of the NFL Draft. The Tennessean reported earlier this month that Sharpe and Tretola have since filed a counterclaim, saying they acted in self-defense and calling the previous lawsuit “a blatant money grab.”
“This is, sadly, part of the business, and being a paid professional athlete,” Sharpe said. “Everybody wants to get their hands on you. Everybody wants to be around you. So you have to kind of watch certain things you do, moves you make. I’m not perfect, just like nobody else is. But I’m learning day by day, and I’ll just continue to grow.”
Nashville police wrapped up an investigation of the incident in June, per The Tennessean, and planned to send their files to the grand jury, which will decide whether or not criminal charges should be filed.
“I’m just looking forward to moving on,” Sharpe said. “I’m real spiritual, so I’ve been praying a lot, kind of asking the man upstairs to keep me in the right position, keep my head on straight and just continue to be the same person I know I am, to continue to be me.
“I’ll keep my faith, and I know this too shall pass. So, I’m just trying to keep my mind focused.”
— Reach John Glennon at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @glennonsports.
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