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NASHVILLE – Seated next to Nick Westbrook-Ikhine at Tennessee Titans wide receiver meetings, veteran Golden Tate has taken to peppering his much-younger teammate with playbook questions.

“He keeps me on my toes,” Westbrook-Ikhine said Wednesday. “I have to make sure I know what I’m talking about so I can help him out and put him in the best situation, so he can be ready to play.”

That the 33-year-old Tate, who has nearly 700 career receptions, is willing to lean on the 24-year old Westbrook-Ikhine – an undrafted free agent in 2020 with 28 career receptions – is a good sign for the Titans.

It would be easy for Tate to take a more casual approach to his new team, figuring the lessons learned during a 12-year NFL career with stops in Seattle, Detroit, Philadelphia and the New York Giants would allow him to slide easily into his latest gig.

Instead, it sounds as if Tate is grinding, learning all he can as quickly as possible, the better to step into the lineup for his hometown team and potentially make an impact down the stretch.

“I definitely see him putting in the work,” Westbrook-Ikhine said. “Just noticing him practicing and studying on his own, even before we get started in the meetings. I feel like it’s starting to pick up and he’s starting to understand it.”

Still, more than two weeks after the Titans signed Tate to the team’s practice squad, it’s hard to gauge what expectations should be for the Hendersonville native, who starred at Pope John Paul II High before earning All-American status at Notre Dame.

Desperately short at wide receiver heading into the New England game, franchise officials had the option to elevate Tate from the practice squad for that contest. They opted on Cody Hollister instead, based on the belief Tate hadn’t been with the team long enough to learn enough of the scheme.

It was easy to contrast Tate’s situation to one earlier in the month, when running back Adrian Peterson stepped into the starting lineup just a few days after he was signed to the practice squad. Common football sense, however, says it’s simpler for a running back than a wide receiver to make a quick transition to a new team. Playing running back is far more reactionary than wide receiver, a position demanding detailed routes that impact other teammates in the pattern.

What will happen this week, when the Titans return from the bye, seeking to snap a two-game losing streak when they take on Jacksonville at Nissan Stadium?

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In one sense, it would seem a golden opportunity might still await Tate, considering Westbrook-Ikhine, Chester Rogers and rookie Dez Fitzpatrick are the only three receivers currently on the team’s 53-man roster set.

On the other hand, the wide receiver depth is improving – and the position becoming more competitive -- by the day. Julio Jones returned to practice on Wednesday following a three-game absence on injured reserve, and he’s eligible to rejoin the active roster as soon as Sunday.

Hollister’s knowledge of the system, and his ability to contribute on special teams, makes him a likely practice-squad elevation again this week. It was Hollister, not Tate, the Titans chose as one of their four protected practice-squad players this week. Even rookie Racey McMath, a special-teams standout, is eligible to play as soon as this weekend after a two-month stint on the practice squad.

And it may not be too long before A.J. Brown – who still must miss at least two more games on injured reserve – steps back onto the practice field.

Tate’s pedigree, of course, is more accomplished than any of the Titans’ receivers except for Jones. The 5-foot-10, 197-pound pass catcher has three 1,000-yard seasons on his résumé, not to mention 8,278 career receiving yards and 46 receiving touchdowns. He posted at least 90 catches in four straight year – from 2014 to 2017.

“He’s a veteran – he’s been doing this for a while,” safety Kevin Byard said. “I actually played against him my rookie year (2016) when he was in Detroit. Obviously, he was their number-one guy there. So hopefully he has a chance to play, or whenever he plays, I’m sure he’ll help us out.”

The fact remains that as impressive a career as Tate has fashioned, he went from last March – when the New York Giants cut him – to late November without an NFL contract.

Were there offers during that time? Was Tate choosy about where he might land? We don’t know those answers, as Tate has yet to be made available to the media.

In any case, though, the reality is that the younger free agents the Titans have signed during this season -- players like D’Onta Foreman, Dontrell Hilliard, Kyle Peko and Dylan Cole – have made a more substantial impact than did Peterson, the 36 year-old high-profile signing who was trying to recapture his glory days.

“[I] threw with him a little bit leading up to the New England game during practice and during all the special teams periods and stuff like that,” quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. “As he learns the offense more and gets deeper into our playbook, we will be able to get more and more reps as the practices go on.”

Will Tate wind up fizzling like Peterson, or will he produce a made-for-the-movies stay in Nashville, helping the NFL team he grew up watching on a march to the playoffs?

The sense is Tate better make an impression soon, before the receivers room really starts to fill up again.