This is where Dorial Green-Beckham expected to be all along, heading toward an NFL roster spot, and feeling good about his progress. He was coming off a four-reception game for the Tennessee Titans heading into Friday’s preseason matchup against the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium but didn’t play because of an ankle injury suffered earlier this week.
The route to this spot, however, zigzagged through detours, and this NFL preseason is Green-Beckham’s first football action since the first week of 2014.
“The year I took off, I continued to work,” Green-Beckham said after the Titans’ 34-10 loss. “I continued to get better and it carried over even after the draft because I haven’t stopped working.”
Then, Green-Beckham walked off the field with his Missouri Tigers teammates, who were victorious over Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl. Green-Beckham had a team-best four receptions for 53 yards in the game that concluded a sophomore season in which he was chosen second-team All-Southeastern Conference and caught two touchdown passes against Auburn in the SEC Championship Game.
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That was Green-Beckham’s final game as a Tiger and a collegian. He was dismissed from the program in April after a third off-field incident — he allegedly forced opened a door at an apartment complex in Columbia and pushed past a woman, causing her to fall down steps and hit the floor.
Green-Beckham wasn’t arrested because the alleged victims declined to press charges. He previously had two marijuana-related arrests. He pleaded guilty to a lesser offense after the first arrest and was not charged after the other.
Green-Beckham, who arrived in Columbia from Springfield as the nation’s top-rated recruit, then went to Oklahoma, as a transfer.
The Sooners attempted to get him eligible for the 2014 season, but the NCAA wouldn’t allow it. Instead of playing, Green-Beckham attended workouts, went to class and did not find trouble. He would have been eligible to play for the Sooners this season, but instead he jumped to the NFL.
Once believed to be a sure-bet first-round selection, the 6-foot-5, 237-pound Green-Beckham slipped to the second round. The Titans took him with the 40th overall selection, their second pick after taking Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota at No. 2 overall.
Tennessee expects big things from the new battery, but coach Ken Whisenhunt knows the layoff factors into Green-Beckham’s progress.
“When you think about 20 months away from football, you know there will be some growing pains,” Whisenhunt said. “Especially when you are coming to NFL level from the type of offense he was running.
“But he likes to work. He’s working hard at it. I don’t have any problems with him. You like having young players like that, that are into it, that want to do well.”
Green-Beckham had one reception in the opening game against the Falcons, a 32-yarder from Zach Mettenberger. His four catches against the Rams last week included three on successive plays.
“There’s a lot of things we have to continue to work with him on, but it was nice to see him make plays,” Whisenhunt said.