NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans' offense broke the huddle, and wide receiver Corey Davis sprinted to the left side. Ryan Tannehill took the snap and rolled to his right as Davis ran with him along the back of the end zone. Tannehill saw that three Titans defenders surrounded Davis, but the quarterback trusted Davis enough to try to squeeze the ball in to him.
Davis came through for Tannehill by skying over the defense to make a one-handed catch. He managed to contort his body to get both feet down in the back of the end zone. The official ruled the catch a touchdown, which immediately prompted everyone to look at one another as if to ask, "Did he catch that?!"
Davis expects to make jaw-dropping plays. It's one reason the third-year receiver could surprise and join the upper echelon of NFL receivers this season.
"I believe I can make those plays every single day," Davis said. "It's just a matter of coming out here and believing in myself, so I can keep doing it. When it's in the air, it's my ball. You gotta believe that and have that mentality when the ball is up there."
Head coach Mike Vrabel has noticed Davis' mentality.
"I think that he’s trying to take that mindset ... I think all great players, especially at that position, have that mindset. That it’s my football, and I’m going to go get it," Vrabel said.
Developing confidence is the key. Titans wide receiver coach Rob Moore led the NFL with 1,584 receiving yards in 1997 while playing for the Arizona Cardinals. He knows what it takes to develop the self-assurance that makes a player excel.
"He has more maturity and confidence. That's probably the reason for the jump in his development. It's huge," Moore said. "Confidence doesn't come from some magic pill. It's derived from work, and he's put in some good work. That's led him to this point."
Davis' production doubled in his second season, when he posted 65 receptions for 891 yards and four touchdowns after he caught only 34 passes for 375 yards and zero touchdowns as a rookie. But on throws into a tight window (less than 1 yard of separation at pass arrival) last season, Davis had a catch rate of 33%, according to NFL Next Gen Stats, which is about league average.
To get better this offseason, Davis emphasized being more explosive in and out of his breaks. He did drills catching footballs and tennis balls to work on attacking the ball when it's in the air.
His offseason work spilled over to training camp, in which he hasn't wasted a second of practice. He spends a lot of time with Moore during breaks to work on his ability to win at the line of scrimmage, at the top of the route and making contested catches that earn trust from quarterbacks.
The results are starting to show.
Exhibit A: During a team period early in training camp, Davis ran a double-move against Adoree Jackson, who stuck with him through the route. Even though Jackson had Davis well covered, Mariota launched a deep pass, and Davis attacked the ball to make the catch.
Mariota said he really likes Davis' body language when he is getting in and out of his routes.
"It makes it easy on us. He’s creating separation," Mariota said.
Tannehill has been impressed by Davis in camp too.
"Corey is really talented," Tannehill said. "He has range. He's long. He has extremely good hands, and his route running is really good. He's showing day in and day out what he can do. When a guy comes out here every day and makes plays, it gives the quarterback a lot of confidence to go to him in a critical situation to make a play."
The big plays Davis has been making and the chemistry he has been building with his quarterbacks all offseason should pay off when the games start to count in September.
"We talk about it all the time," Moore said. "That's what separates the good receivers from the great receivers, the ones that can make contested catches consistently. The only way you get the quarterback's trust is by making plays even when you're covered. Corey's done that."