Tennessee Titans WR Treylon Burks can silence doubters immediately

Tennessee Titans (Mandatory Credit: The Tennessean)
Tennessee Titans (Mandatory Credit: The Tennessean) /

Mentor-gate was exhausting for Tennessee Titans fans, but the questions about Treylon Burks and his asthma/conditioning issues have been almost as bad.

In case you have been living under a rock (or if you have been living a well-adjusted life away from social media), I am talking about the back and forth on whether Treylon Burks is in NFL shape or not.

Without going through every detail, this is the reality of the situation. There were very few players in the Power-5 as important to their school’s success as Treylon Burks was. Burks had half of the Razorbacks’ receiving TDs, more than 40% of their total receiving yards, and one-third of their total receptions. He did all that despite sitting out of the bowl game against Penn State.

In 2021 he played some of the toughest defenses in college football including Alabama, Georgia, LSU, and Auburn. Not only did he continue his dominance, but in his 8 games against SEC opponents, he had 49 receptions, 809 yards, and 8 touchdowns. So he didn’t pad his stats by racking up yards against lesser defenses like some prospects.

That context is important because he transitioned directly from that brutal schedule with a heavy workload, into training for the NFL Combine and his Pro Day. When players test well, it doesn’t mean that they are in good football shape, in fact, it actually trains you to be really explosive for short distances in a controlled environment. That runs counter to training your body to be ready for multi-hour practices and the heat, humidity, and allergens of Tennessee.

So, Burks probably came in out of football shape and struggled to get his cardio where it needed to be while also dealing with asthma. We know that he did some work inside in the bubble when the team practiced there, but he was limited on days when they were outside.

Keep in mind all reports about what Treylon Burks has done since the Tennessee Titans drafted him have been positive. The coaches are not dealing with this in the same way that they dealt with Isaiah Wilson when he was in the process of his collapse, and those comparisons are lazy.

That brings us to training camp.

How Treylon Burks can encourage Tennessee Titans fans

The easiest way for Burks to shut up any critics at this point is simply to show up and be available. Tennessee Titans fans have been conditioned to expect injuries after injury reports tended to hit double-digits during the season last year. Fun fact, we are coming up on the one-year anniversary of Julio Jones missing all of training camp.

If Burks is on the field, practicing in front of the media and in front of the fans, that should be enough to ease everyone’s minds. Everyone who has seen him play knows that he has the talent to be a great receiver, and coaches and players have praised how he has grown in the classroom. Putting it together on the field is the only thing left to do.

His usage will be interesting because he could be a massive piece for the Tennessee Titans’ offense this year, but Mike Vrabel doesn’t ask a lot from rookies early. Could that mean that we see more of him in preseason games like we saw with players like Elijah Molden, Rashad Weaver, and Dillon Radunz last year?

If so, then I would expect him to get a lot of reps as the X receiver with Malik Willis at quarterback. Those two will need to build chemistry for the future anyway and Willis throws to the boundary more often than he throws to the middle of the field. While Burks has a master’s degree as a slot receiver, he didn’t get as much work on the boundary in college so this combo would check off a lot of boxes.

So for Burks, just being there and being consistent will be enough for Tennessee Titans fans, but showing off in the preseason with Malik Willis at quarterback would flood the stands with #16 jerseys.