The Tennessee Titans drafted receiver Treylon Burks because of his playmaking ability.
So, it should come as no surprise that they’re looking for creative ways to put the ball in his hands. During Thursday’s practice, that’s exactly what they did.
Burks and fellow receivers Kyle Philips, Mason Kinsey and Terry Godwin shared reps on punt returns — a position Burks isn’t completely unfamiliar with having returned punts during his freshman and sophomore seasons at Arkansas.
“It’s really not that much different,” Burks said, via AtoZ Sports. “I’ll just say the biggest part for me is changing the way I receive the ball. Now I’m working on catching it [into my chest] instead of with my hands. Just doing that and having my teammates coach me up is the biggest thing that’s helping me.”
Added Titans head coach Mike Vrabel: “I think that one thing that he showed in college was that he was tough to tackle with the ball in his hands, and that he could run after the catch. And so hopefully just trying to find as many places to get guys that can help us. And if he can catch and secure and make the first guy miss, then he has a chance to help us.”
Chester Rogers handled the bulk of Tennessee’s returns last year, averaging 20.1 yards per kick return and 10.1 yards per punt return.
After returning 13 punts for 134 yards (10.3 yards per return) and 11 kicks for 226 yards (20.5 yards per return) in three seasons at Arkansas, Burks saw his role as a returner diminish by his sophomore year as he became a featured part of the Razorbacks’ offense.
Despite having just one punt and kick return apiece over his final two college seasons, Vrabel seems committed to giving Burks an honest evaluation at the position.
“Without gunners coming at you or live action, that's been hard to evaluate,” Vrabel added. “I think that he's getting more comfortable catching them and hopefully we could see him out there in preseason.”
Should the Titans deem Burks too important to their passing game, they still have plenty of options to choose from. Philips could take on a featured role as a punt returner. He had 26 career punt returns for 501 yards and two touchdowns at UCLA, averaging 19.3 yards per return.
Tennessee also signed return specialist Trenton Cannon in the offseason, who has 32 career kick returns for 742 yards, averaging 23.2 yards per return. He returned 16 kicks for 328 yards last year with the San Francisco 49ers.
Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_