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Kyle Philips Treylon Burks
NFL

Kyle Philips Poised To Step Up With Treylon Burks Hurt

  • Justin Melo
  • October 6, 2022
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Tennessee Titans rookie wide receiver Kyle Philips is expected to recapture a sizable role in their passing offense against the Washington Commanders on Sunday. Fellow rookie pass-catcher Treylon Burks missed Wednesday’s practice with a turf toe injury. Burks has avoided going on IR for now but isn’t expected to play against the Commanders. Philips isn’t a like-for-like replacement for Burks, but he’s the receiver that’s most likely to pick up the load.

Philips was always expected to serve as Tennessee’s starting slot receiver this season. The early indications leaned favorably toward that proving accurate. Philips led all Titans receivers in receptions (6) and yards (66) against the New York Giants in Week 1 while playing 46% of their offensive snaps. Philips recorded an explosive 21-yard reception during Tennessee’s final possession as they attempted to get themselves within field goal range. Philips injured his shoulder on that play and has seen his snap count diminish as a result. But Philips appears primed to return to Tennessee’s lineup at the opportune moment that Burks is being sidelined with injury.

Philips returned to Wednesday’s practice without the non-contact yellow jersey he’d been donning for weeks since injuring his shoulder. It strongly indicates Philips has been cleared for contract and will feature for the Titans on Sunday. Expect Tennessee to shuffle some things around with Philips retaking his positioning in the slot.

Robert Woods and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine are expected to start on the boundary in Burks’ absence. The Titans don’t have much depth at receiver. Both Woods and Westbrook-Ikhine are capable of supplanting Philips in the slot on occasion, but it’s not a strategy the Titans should employ with much consistency. Cody Hollister is the remaining receiver on Tennessee’s current 53-man roster. Hollister is a boundary-exclusive player who’s used more as a run blocker than a receiver. The Titans will almost certainly call up Josh Gordon or Dez Fitzpatrick from the practice squad as a standard game-day elevation to round out the numbers Sunday, but Woods, Westbrook-Ikhine, and Philips should carry a heavy workload.

Philips should manage to pick up where he left off. The former UCLA product enjoyed fruitful periods during training camp and throughout the preseason where he showcased the same short-area agility, reliable hands, and advanced route-running techniques that made him such a productive receiver as a Bruin. It’s how Philips initially earned the trust of Tennessee’s coaching staff. Although via limited usage, Philips currently ranks third among all rookie receivers in yards per route run (2.22), trailing just Chris Olave (2.46) and Drake London (2.38), via Pro Football Focus.

The Titans will miss Burks for however long he’s sidelined. Burks’ recent usage indicates his breakout was swiftly approaching. Burks’ snap count increased with each passing contest (37% in Week 1, 45% in Week 2, and 69% in Week 3) before suffering the painful injury in Week 4. Burks’ route running percentage increased from 36% in Week 1 to a startling 97% in Week 3. One rookie receiver returns and another departs. Kyle Philips will be productive in Treylon Burks’ absence.

Written By

Justin Melo