When Tennessee Titans wide receiver Mason Kinsey arrived at his second professional training camp last week, he couldn’t help but to be thankful for a new beginning. Originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Titans in 2020, Kinsey learned a lot about the NFL during his rookie campaign.
Kinsey, who played his college football at the D-III level, has quickly become a fan favorite in Nashville. After spending the majority of the 2020 season on New England’s practice squad, the Titans decided to reunite with Kinsey by signing him to a futures contract in January of this year. The signing represented proof that the Titans still believe in him and are anxious to see what he has to offer in year two.
Throughout the highs and lows, Kinsey has found a way to remain level-headed while focusing on the task in front of him. He knows that nothing will be handed to him over the next few weeks. Kinsey has approached this training camp like the one before it. He’s taking every day as a chance to make a positive impression. He is healthy and believes his work ethic will speak for itself. His positive attitude and skill set now sees him in the middle of a fierce competition for the right to return punts for the Titans in 2021.
Kinsey recently spoke exclusively with Broadway Sports about his rookie season, what he learned about the league as a first-year player, the similarities between the Patriots and the Titans, and his plans for the rest of training camp.
JM: You originally broke into the league with the Titans as an undrafted free agent last season. You also spent some time with the New England Patriots in 2020. You’re back in Tennessee now. What was the biggest lesson you learned as a rookie?
MK: I definitely learned about how professional everybody is and how much of a business it really is. This is an extremely competitive league that we play in. I came into the NFL from a small school. I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t know what it was like to be around the best athletes in the world on a daily basis. I got an opportunity to see that side of it as a rookie. I had great experiences in both Tennessee and New England last season. I’m also very thankful for everything that’s happened to me. I feel like God’s plan for me is perfect. I trust that wholeheartedly. Being able to come back to Tennessee for my second season is definitely a blessing.
JM: It sounds like you learned some valuable lessons along the way. Which area of your game do you think has grown the most in the last 12 months?
MK: That’s a great question. I’m just trying to do what I can to help the team. I have so much trust in our coaching staff. I trust that what we do in practice is helping me become a better player. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. I want to do what’s best for the team. That’s what I try to focus on every single day. I trust what we do in practice. Coach Rob Moore is a great coach. I truly believe he has our best interest at heart. I’ve placed my trust in him. That’s where I think I’ve grown the most. I’ve learned how to take what we do in practice and apply it during the team periods. I’ve always been a team guy, but I’ve gotten better at taking what we’re learning during the individual periods and carrying that over to practice. I’ve learned how to take that and have it translate over to game day scenarios.
JM: Speaking of wide receivers coach Rob Moore, tell me a bit more about what it’s like to be coached by him.
MK: Coach Moore is a blessing. I love coach Rob. That’s what I call him. He knows what he’s talking about because he’s done it at the highest level. He was a very successful player in this league. Whatever he says, that’s what I try to work on. Whatever he’s teaching is something that I know is going to work because he’s done it himself. I trust what he says. He’s a great coach, man. I’m so blessed to have him as my receivers coach.
JM: He’s a terrific coach. A lot has been made about the similarities between the New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans over the past few years. We all know that Mike Vrabel played in New England and Jon Robinson worked in the front office for many years. Having spent time with both organizations over the past year, what were some of your takeaways between the two franchises?
MK: I think both of them represent a winning culture. They both have extremely high standards. They’re very professional with everything they do. You’re expected to be ready to play and to do your job at a moment’s notice. They both preach consistency. You have to do things the right way if you’re going to survive there.
JM: You’ve been exposed to so much more since entering the league. Do you have a favorite route to run?
MK: You know what? I really don’t. I don’t think I do. That’s the honest truth. I’m still getting my feet wet. I haven’t played in an actual game yet. Maybe I’ll have a favorite route once that happens for me (laughs). I wouldn’t say that I have a favorite route. That’s a good question, though. I just don’t know. I’ve never looked at route running that way.
JM: Perhaps you can speak to the ability to run every route in the route tree.
MK: Yeah, I mean, that’s what we’re expected to do at this level. You have to be versatile. You have to be able to do everything that’s asked of you at a high level. It goes back to what I was saying earlier. You have to do everything. You have to be consistent. I’m working on my route running right now. I want to run all of them. I’m going to get a bunch of reps in here.
JM: What’s your favorite aspect of playing the wide receiver position?
MK: You gotta have a bit of a dog mentality if you hope to be successful at playing this position. You’re going to see a lot of man coverage in this league. It’s me versus you. May the best man win. It comes down to how well you prepare for those situations. You have to put in the work. It doesn’t happen overnight. You have to work on your technique. I’m always working to improve that aspect of my game. That’s what makes the game exciting for me. It goes back to what I learned as a rookie. I get to line up against the best players in the world every single day. I really get to see who I am and evaluate myself as a player. I’m always searching for ways to improve my game.
JM: You’re doing all the right things. This is a scenario I enjoy throwing at receivers. What do you prefer, an 80-yard touchdown catch, or catching four or five balls on a long drive that still results in a TD?
MK: I think the fans would prefer to see the long touchdown catch (laughs). I have to go with that one myself.
JM: Almost every receiver does (laughs). Is there a Titans receiver that you’re looking forward to learning from? On the flip side, is there a defensive back you’re excited to square off with in practice?
MK: Julio Jones and A.J. Brown obviously comes to mind. Josh Reynolds as well. All three of those guys have been very successful in this league. I got a bit of a sneak peak at it during OTA’s (laughs). I’m trying to do everything the way they do it. I’m excited to watch and learn from those guys. I’m going to soak it all in. Those are three excellent players right there. They’ve already proven themselves at the highest level imaginable. Getting to learn from them, that’s an exciting thought for me.
Regarding the defense, I wouldn’t say that there’s a certain player I’m excited to practice against. I’ve never approached it that way. I just try to meet every opportunity with great preparation. I see every rep as a chance to present myself. That’s my mindset. I’m trying to make plays that can help this team win football games. That’s how I approach it. I wouldn’t say that I necessarily look forward to facing certain people. I just try to focus on myself and my improvement.
JM: That makes sense. I’ve really appreciated your time today. In closing, what do your goals look like over these next few weeks?
MK: I’m just trying to become the best version of myself. I’m going to do whatever I can to help this team win. That’s the goal at the end of the day. My goal isn’t to be the first or fifth name on this depth chart or whatever. It’s not about that. My goal is to do whatever I can to help the team win. If that means I have to play on special teams and return punts, that’s what I’ll do. Heck, if the guys need water, I’ll be the waterboy (laughs). I’m the ultimate team guy. I just love being a part of this organization. It really is a blessing.