Derek Hagan sat around last season hoping for a call from an NFL team. His phone never rang.
This offseason, the receiver only heard from one team and not until mid-June. Now he is in training camp with the Tennessee Titans hoping to earn a roster spot that keeps him in the league for his eighth season.
"Obviously being out two years is really not a good look for me," Hagan said. "I was already branching off doing other things. Now I'm here, and I'm glad I stayed in shape and stayed into the game. I'm happy and I'm thankful and I'm here."
He was in training camp this time last year with Tampa Bay only to be released in late August. He returned home to Southern California where he worked out all fall, staying in shape just in case a team called. But he also started working as an analyst for a Fox Sports Radio show in case his career indeed was over.
"It was one of those things that was difficult just because I'd been playing for so long," Hagan said. "I just started thinking about, 'OK, what am I going to do if I don't play next year?'"
Hagan, a third-round draft pick by Miami out of Arizona State in 2006, kept working out in case some team called needing a receiver in a hurry. He finally took a break in November but returned to his usual offseason workout in February.
By the time the Titans called Hagan, they only had a three-day minicamp left in their offseason program. Hagan came in, got an iPad loaded with the playbook and started learning the offense. That proved fairly easy for a veteran with 129 catches for 1,480 yards and six touchdowns with Miami, the Giants, Oakland and Buffalo.
"I had that whole month off to learn the playbook," Hagan said. "I learned it, and now it's pretty easy. Once they call a play, I know where I'm going and I don't have to think about it too much."
Hagan has looked good in training camp. The Titans have Kendall Wright, Justin Hunter and Nate Washington as their top three receivers with Hagan competing against Marc Mariani, Michael Preston and Brian Robiskie for either two or three spots depending on how many receivers the team keeps.
At 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, Hagan also brings some size with his experience.
Sitting out a season can be tougher on a receiver because of how much running is required. Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt says Hagan is in good shape and has worked hard in training camp.
"He's really been impressive," Whisenhunt said. "I wasn't sure what to expect from that standpoint, but he's learned very well and we've been able to move him in different spots and he's made a lot of plays. So it's an impressive camp so far for him."
Hagan is just working as hard as he can.
"I'm very thankful to have another chance," Hagan said.
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