Tennessee Titans rookie minicamp got underway on Friday and the media got a first look at the Titans newcomers on the field.
Everybody had their eyes on the Titans top draft selections, and the players did not fail in providing storylines from day one. Unfortunately, not all of them are positive.
It starts with Titans first round WR Treylon Burks.
Burks posted 1104 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Arkansas Razorbacks last season before being drafted by Tennessee with the 18th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Burks’ impact on the Titans is expected to be immediate, as he is being relied on to be the replacement for AJ Brown, whom the Titans traded to the Eagles to acquire Burks.
While Burks certainly looks the part on tape (and in his measurables), the first look of him with the Titans was underwhelming to say the least.
Burks completed a quick individual drill before getting off the field and heading inside with a trainer. Burks later returned to the field with an inhaler and went through two reps of run blocking before retiring to the locker room for the rest of the afternoon.
Treylon Burks didn’t make it through the first WR drill. Was hunched over early. Went into new building with trainer. Was using an inhaler. Came back out, did a couple reps, later went in. #Titans. pic.twitter.com/mXSWMZnARR— Paul Kuharsky (@PaulKuharskyNFL) May 13, 2022
Burks is from Warren, Arkansas, so it’s doubtful the Tennessee heat had any roles in his struggle. He should be used to working out in this weather. To be frank, the wide receiver looked to be out of shape. Not a great first impression.
Burks’ absence raised the eyebrows of those in attendance, prompting questions to Titans head coach Mike Vrabel.
Malik Willis also drew some attention for his struggles throughout the day, but unlike Burks, it was nothing that wasn’t expected of him.
Willis had trouble handling snaps under center, with what I counted to be four miscues between him and UDFA center Xavier Newman-Johnson. Not ideal by any means, but as I previously wrote on Willis, his talent is incredibly raw. He will take time to develop. There are flaws in his game and there is a reason he fell to 86th overall in the draft.
Being inexperienced under center in college, issues under center in the NFL were expected, and it’s on Mike Vrabel, Tim Kelly, and the Titans to coach those imperfections out of him.
If Willis continues to show these struggles down the road, the concern will be warranted. But for now, it’s only day one, and this is what the Titans signed up for. I tend to believe this is not as big of a deal as it may seem to be when put under a microscope.
Kind of like the controversy regarding Ryan Tannehill and his mentorship.
While Tannehill’s comments from last week’s press conference made headlines nationally and caused waves around the NFL world, the Titans seem to be on good terms internally.
During the press conference following practice on Friday, Malik Willis was asked what he took away from Tannehill’s remarks:
Malik Willis smiles & laughs when asked about Ryan Tannehill’s mentor comment.— AtoZ Sports Nashville (@AtoZSports) May 13, 2022
“We chopped it up. He had us over to the house. He’s a good dude” pic.twitter.com/vRNSbDVrPz
“We chopped it up. It was never anything negative. Ryan is a good dude. Everything is cool,” Willis said.
If that’s not enough to calm the outrage, Titans head coach Mike Vrabel came to Tannehill’s defense as well.
“I thought Ryan handled that very well. I thought he was genuine and authentic. I know Ryan is a great teammate. That is not his job. His job is to help us win games.”
– Mike vrabel on ryan tannehill’s comments regarding mentorship
Yes, Willis and Vrabel are definitely saying all the right things, but it’s comforting to know the Titans are unified in how they view the situation and their roles. The goal for everyone going forward is exactly as Vrabel said: win games.
I’m sure everyone, fans and media included, will be keeping an eye on Burks and Willis as the weekend progresses. That likely won’t change come OTA’s or training camp in the next few months.
Image via George Walker IV / Tennessean.com / USA TODAY NETWORK