NASHVILLE — The list of challenges Robert Woods will face in the weeks and months ahead is long.
In a relatively short time, the veteran wide receiver is expected to recover from a torn ACL, learn a new playbook, develop chemistry with quarterback Ryan Tannehill, and probably – at least initially – become the best Tennessee Titans option by the way. Game.
Apparently not for Woods, who appears to have tackled another big responsibility on his own: He played a direct role in the mental and physical growth of the Titans’ last two first-round draft picks — cornerback Caleb Farley (2021 ) and wide receiver Treylon Burks (2022).
His work with Burks could be seen as natural, as the two play in the same position.
Still, Titans coaches, teammates and fans should be thrilled that a player with an impeccable reputation in Woods is guiding Burks, whose offseason introduction to the NFL has been a bumpy one. Burks failed the first drill of rookie minicamp before walking off the field looking exhausted in the scorching sun last month. He made incremental progress in that department during open-to-the-media OTA sessions, but even on Wednesday Burks didn’t participate fully in all the drills.
Woods both offered advice to Burks and placed expectations on him.
While chatting with the former Arkansas star, Woods told Burks, “(It’s) the NFL. It is the highest level of football. It’s not going to be easy for any rookie to get started, especially this offense we’re leading. It’s a lot of learning, a lot of studying. That’s what I tell him. Make sure to stay in your (playbook) and play fast. You’re going to make mistakes, but as long as you make them at full speed…we just need you to go.
Once the rookie begins to get comfortable with the workouts and the playbook, Woods, 30, expects Burks, 22, to push Woods and make him better.
“I know I’m a veteran and he’s a rookie,” Woods said. “But I need him to compete with me so that I can improve myself and everyone else. That’s how you get really good. It’s a competition, all around every position. C It’s how guys keep playing at an elite level. You don’t want guys to get complacent and comfortable.
Says Burks: “I would say (my relationship with Woods) has come a long way. Robert is a great player, a great leader and he continues to encourage everyone in the locker room. We couldn’t be more grateful for him.
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It’s a look at the offensive player coordinator Todd Downing first met at Buffalo in 2014, when Downing was the Bills’ quarterbacks coach. Woods had 65 catches for 699 yards and five touchdowns in his second NFL season, despite Buffalo quarterbacks – Kyle Orton and EJ Manuel – barely setting the performance standard at their positions this year -the.
“I was lucky to be with Robert in Buffalo for a year, so I kind of knew what we were getting,” Downing said. “He is a hard worker. He’s a guy who loves football. He’s passionate about the game. So none of that surprised me when he got here. I love the way he plays. I love his physique. He has a dog of his own. It’s contagious to be there.
With Woods recovering from his ACL injury, he also spent a lot of time with Farley, who was limited to three games and 60 defensive snaps as a rookie before tearing an ACL in mid-October. Just as is the case with Burks, Woods expects his relationship with Farley to be two-way – with each player finding ways to help the other.
“He’s strong, he’s quick,” Woods said of Farley. “I think it’s good for me to have someone next to me and assess that.
“We just talk a lot. We’re in rehab, obviously, but we can just ask ourselves why am I making a certain exit (outside the line of scrimmage), or what does he prefer – as a corner – in the press? … It’s really fair to be able to get reps to the side, off the court. It goes hand in hand. I learn from him. He learns from me.
Coach Mike Vrabel added: “It was really cool for Caleb to be with (Woods) during their rehab process.”
Meanwhile, Woods himself has raised eyebrows with the impressive progress he’s made since his knee injury last November.
He’s been an active participant on the court since the start of the Titans OTAs, running without a limp through individual and team drills.
The only way observers know he’s recovering from a major injury is if he’s wearing a knee pad and a non-contact yellow jersey.
It somehow seems appropriate that Woods sometimes forgets to put on that yellow jersey for the first team drill or two.
He doesn’t seem to be holding back much.
“I’m obviously smart in what I can and can’t do,” Woods said. “But I would say I’m always going to push and try to feel it. To have confidence in myself I have to do it and know what I can and can’t do. I’m going to go for it until they tell me that I can’t or (that) I do too much.
Woods pushes the limits of his recovery, just as he pushes a pair of Titans first-round picks to reach their full potential.