The Art of the Deep Ball: How Titans’ Kalif Raymond hones his best skill

By John Glennon

It took just a couple steps for Titans wide receiver Kalif Raymond to shake cornerback Johnathan Joseph at the line of scrimmage during a recent practice, just a couple more steps for Raymond's speed to start creating noticeable separation.

Then came the hard part.

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill lofted a long, high pass down the right sideline that – at first glance – looked like it would carry beyond the reach of even the fleet-footed Raymond. But Raymond pumped his arms and legs, grunted audibly a couple of times and – at the end of his journey – managed to track the ball down for a training-camp touchdown.

It was just another example of Raymond showcasing his special talent, the ability to make one of the game's most difficult plays – catching the long bomb – look relatively easy.

In 2019, Raymond's average of 20.1 yards at the catch – without factoring in yards after the reception – led all NFL receivers with at least 10 catches over the course of the regular season and playoffs. Another way of looking at Raymond's deep-ball prowess, per Pro Football Focus: The Titans threw five passes of more than 20 yards in the air toward Raymond last year. He caught four of them, averaging 40 yards per reception and posting two touchdowns.

“It's a challenge down the field and some guys are able to track the ball . . .

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