TAMPA — Adam Humphries plans on getting together with some old friends Saturday night and showing some of his former teammates some of the best food Nashville has to offer.
But come game time, Humphries — the former Bucs slot receiver who signed a four-year contract with the Tennessee Titans this past offseason worth $36 million — will face those friends as an opponent for the first time.
“It’s going to be really weird,” Humphries said in a phone interview with the Tampa Bay Times on Friday. "I’m smiling just thinking about competing against those guys because it’s something I’ve never done before and it’s going to feel really weird being on a different team than them.
“But I still pull for them individually to be successful and I still keep in touch with them every day, so they’re close friends that I’ll always have in my life and I’m always pulling for them.”
Humphries, 26, launched his unlikely NFL career in Tampa, going from an undrafted and undersized rookie free agent to one of the league's most dependable slot receivers.
“I’ve got a lot of love for the Bucs,” Humphries said. “I had a great time in Tampa in my four years there and they were the first team and really the only team that gave me a shot coming out of college. So I’m forever grateful to them for giving me the opportunity to play in this league.”
Humphries was neck-and-neck with Mike Evans as Jameis Winston’s No. 1 target during his time with the Bucs. More than 20 percent of Winston’s passes went to Humphries and they tended to be shorter, more efficient passes.
Without Humphries, Winston’s completion percentage has slipped to its lowest point (60.0 through six games) since his rookie season.
After enjoying his best NFL season in 2018 — logging 76 catches for 816 yards and five touchdowns — Humphries was able to test free agency and ultimately signed with the Titans.
Humphries’ role in Tennessee is a different one. His contract places added pressure to perform, but also he’s suddenly the most experienced player in a young receivers room. In Tampa, he was able to learn under veterans like Vincent Jackson, DeSean Jackson and Evans. Now, he is assuming that leadership role.
“There’s a lot that goes along with it,” Humphries said. “Coming here, it was the first time for me being the oldest receiver in a room. ... It kind of puts you more in a leadership role which is new to me but also exciting and a different challenge. It’s been a different type of transition but I’ve enjoyed it and I’ve learned a lot about myself and I just try to get better each and every day.”
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Humphries’ move to Tennesse has been an adjustment. The Titans aren’t as pass-happy as the Bucs were during his time in Tampa. He is finding his role in the offense, logging 14 receptions in the last three games after just 11 in the first four. He’s on pace to have 21 fewer catches and 293 fewer yards than last season.
“He’s a tough player,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. “He’s always well prepared. I think he takes advantage of his opportunities. I think people here probably have tried here to make something of the production in comparison to this year from last year. I think it’s not fair to the player. We’re very happy with what Adam’s done for us. He’s been able to help us convert. He’s been able to help us in the punt return game. He’s a very dependable player.”
Humphries believes that as long as he remains consistent in his route-running, he’ll continue to grow in the Titans’ offense, and develop chemistry with his quarterback, no matter who’s under center. Last week, Ryan Tannehill took over for former No. 2 overall pick, Marcus Mariota, who was benched.
“I was in Tampa for several years and I was comfortable in that offensive system we had there. I think the transition here is just something that is challenging, but they have a great staff here with great players."
Humphries is looking forward to seeing Cameron Brate and Ryan Griffin, whom he lived with in Tampa for three-plus seasons, as well as the receivers he became close to like Evans and Chris Godwin. Humphries spent four years playing with Bucs like Jameis Winston and Ali Marpet.
“We spent four years together, so we’re extremely close and it’s not even that,” Humphries said. “It will be cool to have them up and take them out to my favorite restaurants out here and spend time with them. I’m excited to see everyone and get them in the same room and just catch up.”
And come game time?
"You've got to look at this like any other game, you want to win and help your team succeed in any way possible. But yeah, it will be a little different."
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @EddieInTheYard.