NASHVILLE — As the Tennessee Titans (7-3) progress deeper into the regular season, their rookie class continues to make important contributions in 2022. Tight end Chig Okonkwo is one who has continued to earn the trust of his teammates and coaches.
Tennessee will need him on the track.
Okonkwo wasn’t a huge target, but neither player is truly on the Titans’ run-first offense. However, the rookie more than takes advantage of his opportunities to make a legitimate difference. Eight catches for 172 yards and a touchdown in 11 weeks are far from stunning stats.
Okonkwo’s influence in Tennessee requires a closer look.
Titans are starting to get more out of their tight ends
Of those eight receptions, Okonkwo has had one in each of their last four games.
In three consecutive events, those catches went 48, 41, and 31 yards, respectively. Explosive plays have been hard to find on the Titans’ offense this year. Good things happen when the Tennessee quarterbacks can get him the ball.
So how does he secure a bigger role?
“Keep trying to find ways to get (Okonkwo the Football),” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said earlier this month. “If he’s running a route out there, like I tell every player who’s on a route, your job is to open up and you can’t control whether you get the ball or not. That’s up to the quarterback. We will continue to try to find ways to involve everyone and do things that help us.”
In Thursday night’s win after Vrabel made that quote, quarterback Ryan Tannehill gave Okonkwo a chance to deliver again.
On 2nd and 7th plays from the 12-yard line at Tennessee, Tannehill found the tight end of the first year with a deep shot down the left side of the field for a 31-yard gain. That swing gave the Titans’ offense an opportunity to extend a drive, and four games later, a touchdown pass thrown by running back Derrick Henry at fellow Austin Hooper for a 20-9 lead.
“It was amazing, the feeling in the dressing room,” Okonkwo said of the win in Green Bay in an interview with 104.5 The Zone this week. “I just go back in knowing we finally played a full game. Every quarter, every phase. Just being able to experience that. It kind of refreshed our team on how good we can be when we’re able to play with all cylinders and hit everything like that. It feels like we’re unstoppable out there.”
With Okonkwo and Treylon Burks continuing their first-round smashing games, the Titans’ offense could certainly begin.
Featured image: USA TODAY Sports.