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Robert Woods

When the Tennessee Titans traded for Robert Woods in mid-March, his expected role was that of the complementary No. 2 receiver behind A.J. Brown that the team had been lacking for the last three years.

After a draft night trade that sent Brown to Philadelphia and landed Treylon Burks in Nashville, Woods now finds himself as the Titans default No. 1 wideout and something of a mentor to Burks during OTAs.

However, don’t expect Woods to cut Burks much slack just because he’s the new guy.

“I know [Treylon] is a rookie, but I need him to compete with me so I can better myself and everybody,” Woods said. “That’s how you really become good; it’s a competition all around at every position, and that’s how you keep guys playing at an elite level. You don’t want guys to get complacent or comfortable.”

Over the course of his nine-year career, Woods hasn’t exactly been “the guy” before.

Although he did have back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2018 and 2019, and he’s just one year removed from consecutive 90-catch seasons, the USC alum has primarily been a really good second option.

Averaging 63 receptions and 786 receiving yards and just under four touchdowns per season since the Buffalo Bills drafted him in the second round of the 2013 draft, Woods, 30, will be given every opportunity to impact Tennessee’s passing game.

Of course, how big that impact will be is completely dependent on how well his recovery goes from the torn ACL he suffered in November.

“It’s not mandatory that (players) rehab here, but it’s great that he’s here being a veteran leader,” head coach Mike Vrabel said. “Him getting injured is nothing he could control. He’s controlling what he can control, which is his rehab, where he does it, and the attitude in which he does it with.”

Added Woods: “Being able to run on the side with (strength and conditioning coach) Frank (Piraino) and seeing certain speeds that I’m hitting, being able to trust my knee in some cuts with (WRs coach) Rob (Moore), I think I’m really good on pace. Being able to do some training on my own and really just being confident in where I’m at and being prepared. Obviously, we don’t know how long [my recovery] is going to take or what can come up, but right now, we’re on pace and doing really good to be ready for a camp.”

While the Titans would prefer to have Woods go through OTAs without any limitation, the team is in no rush to hurry him along having watched both Taylor Lewan and Bud Dupree work through the same situation last year.

Although he remains dogged about putting a timetable on his recovery, Woods’ participation in OTAs so far has provided plenty of optimism. He’s taken part in some on-field drills and appears to be running normally without any signs of distress from his knee.

“I feel like we’re able to do these [drills] at slower speeds and being able to build up (confidence) as I go,” Woods added. “Being able to [practice] in the jog-through period, in the individual period with Rob, I feel like that’s the kind of stuff that allows me to have confidence and being able to pick it up. I’ve already made these cuts at a certain level, and as we start picking up the speeds, I feel like it just comes from doing the drills and being able to translate it to the field.”

Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_