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Tennessee Titans first-round pick Treylon Burks ready to get past hurdles at training camp

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The highly anticipated debut of Tennessee Titans rookie receiver Treylon Burks didn't produce the best results for the first-round pick.

Burks was unavailable for minicamp after being removed from the first practice of rookie minicamp a couple of weeks prior because of asthma complications, which also forced him to miss parts of organized team activities.

That didn't stop the team from working to get the most out of him.

"We're doing everything we can to keep him abreast," receiver coach Rob Moore said during minicamp. "He’s done a great job of responding to everything we’ve given him. It’s just a matter of taking all that information and putting it to practice."

Burks worked on conditioning with a separate trainer by riding a stationary bike during minicamp practices. There's always a learning curve for rookies as they transition to the NFL. Digesting a new playbook doesn't come easily.

On-the-field reps weren't possible for Burks, so the Titans put him to work in the classroom to get the installation process down while he prepared for the time when he can step on the field.

"He's always being quizzed by Rob Moore, [offensive coordinator Todd Downing], coach [Mike] Vrabel," said veteran receiver Robert Woods, who also was acquired in the offseason. "They were always throwing out questions, picking his brain. So he was always on the hot seat. We’re just doing that so he can pick up the offense as fast as he can."

The Titans are relying on Burks to have a significant impact after trading Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles on draft night. Brown had an immediate impact with the team by finishing his rookie season with 52 receptions for 1,052 yards and eight touchdowns.

Comparisons to Brown, who led the team in receiving during his first three years in the league, will be unavoidable for Burks, who finished with 66 receptions for 1,104 yards and 11 touchdowns during his final season at Arkansas and was selected by the Titans minutes after the blockbuster trade was announced.

Like Brown, Burks has the special ability to make plays with the ball in his hands as shown by his 9.4 average yards after the catch, which ranked seventh among all FBS receivers according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill is no stranger to having receivers who can add yards after the catch. Since 2019, Brown averaged 6.9 yards after the catch, third-best among NFL receivers over that span.

Tannehill will need to get that same connection with Burks to create impact plays in the passing game. Steps towards developing the chemistry were mostly off the field during the offseason.

"We’ve had a lot of conversations as we’re watching tape and talking through the reps that other guys have had," Tannehill said. “Just wanting to make sure he’s hearing it, sees what I’m looking for and kind of hearing what he’s thinking. We’re communicating. Then whenever the time comes for him to be out there running with us, we’ll take advantage of those reps."

Those reps should come during training camp, where Burks is facing an uphill battle. Moore said he has no doubt that Burks will be ready to go when camp practices start July 27.

According to Vrabel, the team kept the rookies behind after minicamp to get them acclimated to the strength and conditioning program in addition to adjusting to the Nashville heat and humidity.

Learning the playbook and asthma/conditioning hurdles are the most obvious. But there are more.

While at Arkansas, Burks played in a quick-hitting, run-pass-option offense, so he'll need to learn to run more complex routes that make up an NFL playbook.

The opportunity to develop that part of his game wasn't available during OTAs, which places even more emphasis on training camp. Burks seems to have the right approach after having a rough start.

"I'm just taking it one day at a time and everything else will take care of itself," Burks said. "Everybody is going to have setbacks. It's just how you come back and attack it."