NASHVILLE, Tenn. — For the Tennessee Titans, deciding which wide receivers to keep when roster cut day arrives could come down to the ability to return punts.
Over the first three days of Training Camp, the only three players who caught punts during practice were receivers Chester Rogers, Cameron Batson and Mason Kinsey.
While none of those players will make the Titans’ roster solely based on their receiving abilities, each of them stands a good chance because of their ability to help out in the return game.
“The ability to play multiple positions, conceptual learning, knowing multiple spots is extraordinarily valuable,” Titans offensive coordinator Todd Downing said.
— Luke Worsham (@luke_worsham) July 31, 2021
During the last few seasons, the Titans relied heavily on the trio of CB Adoree’ Jackson, WR Adam Humphries and WR Kalif Raymond to return punts. With all three of those players now on other teams, the Titans need to find a replacement.
Luckily, in 2021, an NFL team really only needs someone who can catch punts and not make mistakes with the ball. Rogers, Batson and Kinsey each could likely hit that mark if asked.
The problem with that, though, is the fact that no one in that trio provides anything terribly remarkable as a receiver.
Rogers, who’s made some nice plays early in Training Camp, is probably the clubhouse leader in that category, but even his ability has significant limitations.
Unless the Titans can find someone at another position that has the ability to return punts, they’ll essentially be forced to keep a receiver that they probably wouldn’t otherwise.
The team may be trying to do that. Running backs Darrynton Evans and Brian Hill entered the punt return rotation during Saturday’s practice.
To overtake someone from the Rogers/Batson/Kinsey trio and save the Titans a roster spot, they’ll have to prove to be reliable and efficient.
“I think the most important thing is being able to make great decisions in the game,” head coach Mike Vrabel said.
“You know, are they strong with the ball? Can they get us a first down after they catch it? Are they making good decisions? All those types of things, it goes into evaluating the returners.”
For now, it looks like Batson, Kinsey and Rogers best fit that bill.
- Moore image: Steve Roberts/USA Today
- Batson image: George Walker IV/The Tennessean