Tennessee Titans rookie wide receiver Treylon Burks made his NFL preseason debut against the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday. It was more of a whimper than a bang. Burks was held catchless on just one target. He also gained four yards via a designed touch (a jet sweep).
Burks isn’t blameless, but there were additional factors at play that led to a disappointing performance. That should be your ultimate takeaway from Burks’ night.
Burks featured extensively. The former Arkansas product played a total of 30 snaps, which accounted for approximately 48% of the Titans’ offensive plays. Burks even played into the fourth quarter. He was out-snapped by just one receiver, Mason Kinsey, who led all Titans receivers with 46 snaps. The Titans wanted to see a larger sample size from Burks. There were varying reasons why they didn’t get their wish.
Firstly, Burks struggled to gain separation at times. It was a question mark throughout the pre-draft process. On other occasions, Titans rookie quarterback Malik Willis didn’t cut it loose. As exciting as Willis‘ debut was, he made it difficult for the Titans to receive a true evaluation of their receivers, Burks most notably. On a second-quarter sack, Willis had Burks in decent positioning on a fade route. The opposing cornerback was in a decent position too, but it would have been nice to see Willis give his big-bodied boundary receiver an opportunity in a contested-catch situation. After all, Burks was that kind of player at Arkansas.
The majority of Willis’ targets were thrown in the direction of his tight ends and running backs. Willis also scrambled on five occasions, gaining 39 yards and scoring his lone touchdown. Titans head coach Mike Vrabel confirmed he yanked Willis early in the third quarter for his hesitation to test throwing windows. Willis flat-out missed Burks on at least one occasion.
If Willis lets this fly we might be having a different Burks discussion today pic.twitter.com/0Zepb3sast
— Kevin Cole (@KevinColePFF) August 12, 2022
The quarterback didn’t attempt a pass on nine of Burks’ 21 routes, per Pro Football Focus. Willis escaped clean pockets on a consistent basis. On other routes, Burks didn’t do enough to make himself a tempting target. Backup quarterback Logan Woodside showed more of a willingness to get his receivers involved, but Woodside largely played with the team’s third or fourth-string offensive line and was often under duress. Woodside did provide Burks with an appetizing opportunity to make a deep one-on-one touchdown grab. The ball was unfortunately thrown slightly more toward the safety in coverage and Burks was unable to come down with it.
Vrabel even took a halftime jab at Burks while complimenting second-year receiver Racey McMath, who was on the receiving end of a 48-yard completion from Willis in the second quarter. When asked about McMath’s reception, Vrabel responded, “we’re still looking for some of our other playmakers to do something.” Classic Vrabel. It was a job directed at not only Burks, but fellow rookie pass-catchers Kyle Philips and Chigoziem Okonkwo as well, who combined for one reception on the night.
The ultimate takeaway on Burks’ debut was that the elements largely robbed us of formulating an opinion with any sort of conviction. Burks needs to create more separation at times. His backup quarterbacks (Ryan Tannehill didn’t play) also have to throw receivers open and get rid of the ball efficiently and on schedule.
The Titans are about to spend the upcoming week practicing against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (sans Tom Brady) leading up to their Week 2 preseason showdown. Here’s hoping we learn more about Burks when he takes the field again.
- Sep 29, 2023
- Sep 29, 2023