Tennessee Titans wide receiver Josh Malone was recently considered a beloved in-state performer. Malone enjoyed an electric collegiate career as a standout member of the Tennessee Volunteers. Malone totaled more than 100 receptions and 14 touchdowns across three successful seasons in Tennessee orange, smokey and white.
Malone has bounced around the league since entering the professional ranks as a fourth-round selection of the Cincinnati Bengals, but the Chattanooga native turned heads throughout the Titans’ organized team activities (OTAs), routinely making plays during team periods. If Malone is feeling at home, it’s because he literally is. The comforts of his home state may allow Malone to write a redemption story for the ages.
Malone recently spoke exclusively with Broadway Sports regarding the opportunity to play for his hometown Titans, the lessons he’s learned on his NFL journey, his first impression of the Titans’ new-look offense and receiver room, and so much more.
JM: You originally entered the league as a fourth-round selection of the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2017 NFL Draft. You’ve also spent time with the Broncos, Jets and Packers before landing in Tennessee. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned on your NFL journey?
Malone: The biggest lesson I’ve personally learned is how to keep going and working on improving your craft. You always have to be ready to seize your opportunity when the moment arrives. You never know when your number is going to get called. You have to step up and be ready when your name’s called upon.
JM: Every Titans fan is aware that you were a legendary performer for the Tennessee Volunteers. You racked up more than 100 receptions and 14 touchdowns across three successful seasons. You’re also a Chattanooga native. You must feel like things are coming full circle. You have an excellent opportunity to write a redemption story in your home state.
Malone: This is definitely a special opportunity for me. I’m back home. It’s a full-circle situation, as you said. I’m extremely fortunate to be back home. I’m surrounded by so many family and friends. My support system in this state is still excellent and present. I have an opportunity to play for the state that I’ve always loved. Tennessee has always been a part of me. I was blessed to represent this state in college. Getting a chance to represent the state again on the professional stage is special. It’s definitely a blessing.
JM: You made a lot of big plays at OTAs. How do you reflect on your impressive performances?
Malone: I was really just trying to keep my head down and go to work. I was taking OTAs day by day. If I had a great performance the day before, I was trying to top that performance the next practice. What you’ve done in the past really doesn’t matter. It’s about what you’re doing in the present. This team and coaching staff preaches that. I’m going to keep living in the present. I’m putting my best foot forward.
JM: You’ve been running with the ones and twos at practice. It must feel good to be catching passes from a familiar face in Logan Woodside, who you spent time alongside in Cincinnati with the Bengals.
Malone: Catching up with Logan Woodside has been great. We talk about our time spent together in Cincinnati all the time. It’s great to have an existing connection with a quarterback on the roster. Woodside and I are extremely familiar with one another. We got along well in Cincinnati, and it’s been more of the same so far in Tennessee. We’re looking forward to working together and continuing to build our relationship, both on and off the field.
JM: That’s incredible. What was your biggest takeaway from OTAs and your first impression of the 2022 Titans?
Malone: I personally feel like this team is extremely motivated. It’s an honor to join a competitive team that’s used to winning football games. My experience in the locker room has been incredible so far. It’s a humble and personable locker room. Everybody gets along so well. It makes for a favorable workplace environment. It’s a great city, team and organization to play for. I know we’re going out every single day with the mindset to get better.
JM: That’s the right attitude to have. What are you hoping to prove to the coaching staff over these next two months? I know you’re excited to battle for a roster spot.
Malone: I’ll keep reiterating the same thing I said through OTAs. I’m here to prove that I can make plays and carve out a role for myself. I want to show everybody that I can contribute to this team in any type of way that’s necessary. I can play whatever role they need me to play. I’m ready to take advantage of this opportunity.
JM: That makes a lot of sense. This is a new-look receiver room that lost A.J. Brown and Julio Jones. Is there a wide receiver or two that you’ve really connected with during practices and what not?
Malone: I really connected with every receiver in our room. I believe in getting to know your teammates. Keeping lines of communication open with your teammates is important to me. I feel like that leads to on-field success, especially at a position like wide receiver. We have to communicate and talk freely. That’s how we push each other. All of the guys have been great so far. That allows everybody in the room to get better.
I received a lot of great information from Robert Woods throughout OTAs. His experience is something else. Obviously his track record and resume speaks for itself. Every chance I get to pick Woods’ brain, I enjoy learning from what he’s thinking and seeing on the field. He’s such a crafty, nuanced route runner. He’s helping me add new wrinkles to my game. Playing next to him is definitely helping me improve my craft.
JM: He’s one of the savviest veterans in the league. What’s been your first impression of Titans starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, having worked with him through OTAs?
Malone: He made a great first impression on me. He’s definitely a quarterback that takes control and command of the offense. He’s a great leader. I have a ton of respect for him. He throws a great ball. He commands this offense. He knows what he’s seeing from opposing defenses. Getting an opportunity to share the field with him has been great. I’m looking forward to building even more chemistry with him on the field.
JM: Do you have a favorite route to run?
Malone: I personally feel like I can run every route in the route tree. Every receiver loves running a go-ball of course (laughs). It’s a 50-50 ball and may the best man win. I definitely welcome that sort of competition from opposing cornerbacks.
JM: As somebody that can run the route tree, how would you describe your skill set, and what it adds to this Titans offense?
Malone: I feel like I’m a very balanced receiver. If I need to block and help out in the run game, I can do that. I can stretch the field. If I need to work the short-to-intermediate areas of the field, I can do that as well. I’ve always said my strengths are speed, size, route running and reliable hands. I feel like I have a balanced skill set. I’ve worked on my weaknesses over the years to turn them into strengths. I’m always looking to improve my game.
JM: We love to hear that. How are you getting along with Titans receivers coach Rob Moore? He’s a good one.
Malone: It’s been great. I respect his coaching. He has so much experience in this league. He also played the position for a long time. He’s straight and honest with us. I know that he has the player’s best interest at heart.
JM: He certainly does. We’re so excited for you to receive this opportunity in Tennessee. We’ve appreciated your time today. In closing, training camp has officially arrived. What do your goals look like?
Malone: I’m taking things day by day. I’m excited to build on the momentum I managed to create for myself throughout OTAs. I’m going to keep making plays and proving to everybody involved that I can be a game-changer. I’m excited to contribute to this team.