Tennessee Titans receiver Hakeem Nicks has seen his once-promising career derailed by injuries, but he hasn’t lost any of his confidence along the way.
In fact, Muhammad Ali would be proud of the bold words Nicks used to describe his vision for the future with the Titans. Speaking with reporters at team facilities, the receiver divulged his impressive goals, via Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean:
“(I’m) motivated, determined and ready to work. I am ready to bring it all and lay it on the line, man,” Nicks said. “I just want to get back in the rhythm of being talked about as one of the best receivers in the league, as I was in the past. I believe I can, but I need to go out there and prove it. No need to say words.”
During his heyday with the New York Giants, Nicks showed plenty of promise, though nobody would say he ranked among the league’s elite. His best stretch came in 2010-2011, during which time Nicks caught 155 passes for 2,244 yards with 18 touchdowns as Eli Manning’s primary outside target.
While those are impressive numbers, they don’t compare to the jaw-dropping totals of the league’s true superstars at the receiver position. Guys like Dez Bryant, Antonio Brown, Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones, Jordy Nelson, Demaryius Thomas and Odell Beckham Jr. would consider his best years to be disappointing.
Still, there is no doubt Nicks showed flashes of greatness at times, and nobody wants a receiver who doesn’t think he’s good enough to be mentioned among the greats, anyway.
But since 2011, Nicks hasn’t been the same. He suffered a nagging foot injury that never seemed to fully heal, and the Giants moved on. He made a minor impact playing for the Indianapolis Colts last season, but he has only managed seven touchdown receptions the past three years.
That hasn’t stopped the former North Carolina Tar Heel from dreaming big, though.
“I feel like where I am at in my career—I just turned 27—I feel like I still have a lot in my tank,” Nicks said. “I wanted to go somewhere and prove I can still be a No. 1 receiver and be the guy I was in the past, statistically and being a guy that likes to make plays and be on the field consistently.”
It seems unlikely that Nicks will “be on the field consistently” for Tennessee this year, let alone earn the No. 1 receiver moniker.
Kendall Wright, Justin Hunter and Harry Douglas would all appear to have a significant leg up on the team’s depth chart, and the Titans will certainly try to get rookie Dorial Green-Beckham involved as soon as possible.
Also, there will be other receivers, running backs and defensive backs that will be able to contribute on special teams, whereas Nicks has never been known for his special-teams play. And if he’s not contributing immediately on offense, that makes him expendable.
It shouldn’t be surprising at all if Nicks ends up on the chopping block before the season begins. While his mind is clearly still focused on being a top receiver in the NFL, his body hasn’t cooperated with him for the past few years.
Still, one must commend him for his positive outlook.
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