Treylon Burks’ initiation into the NFL certainly hasn’t gone the way he expected it to go.
The former Arkansas standout went through a normal pre-draft process, like your average, every-day high end receiver prospect. He went through combine drills, sat through the often harsh process known as combine interviews, and came out of the league’s biggest pre-draft event unscathed.
Burks went through the draft like a normal NFL prospect. He elected to stay away from the bright lights of Las Vegas, and the anxiety inducing green room for prospects with real chances of being selected in the first round.
Instead, he chose to surround himself with family and friends, while waiting for the call that would change his life for the immediate future.
As we know by now, Burks received that call from the Tennessee Titans, who have high hopes for him after they shipped A.J. Brown to Philadelphia on the same night Burks was drafted.
When a young player like Burks, has the expectations that are on his shoulders right now, there are going to be an extra set of eye balls on his development. Starting from his first practice as a professional. That’s exactly what went down at rookie minicamp earlier this month, when Burks and his impressive build made its way to the practice fields of St. Thomas Sports Park.
But what followed Burks’ professional practice debut, was a bit of an odd development that has continued at the start of OTA’s.
Burks left his first rookie minicamp practice in very early fashion. It appeared he was struggling to effectively get through drills, either due to a conditioning issue or an underlying injury the public knew nothing about.
But once Burks was seen with an inhaler, most of us concluded that his exit was likely due to an asthma or lung problem that many athletes deal with over the course of their careers.
With Burks practicing in full without an early exit the next day, almost everyone who had concerns dropped them, therefore putting the “issue” to bed.
However, it appears Burks still has some complications to work through, as he left the team’s first team wide OTA practice twice due to undisclosed reasons.
Mike Vrabel himself didn’t appear worried by Burks’ early exit, although it’s never easy to gauge a player’s health by Vrabel’s comments since Vrabel is very secretive about the health of his players.
With Burks’ exits being a story again, some have speculated as to whether Burks’ conditioning and potential underlying problems could stand as hiccups in the development of the young rookie receiver.
But I think we’re ways away from this non-story becoming one for the front pages of newspapers.
If Burks has a bit of a conditioning issue, then it isn’t the end of the world. Although he’d be limited in what he can do in terms of a full practice workload, we’re still in the early OTA portion of the off-season.
That means Burks still has time to get his bearings, and work himself into good shape before the heavy work begins in July and August. That isn’t to say OTA’s and minicamp aren’t important and should be written off by the masses.
But it’s saying that these practices aren’t the very core practices we tend to see the most strenuous amount of work. Those sessions are usually reserved for July and August, as 90+ players across a roster fight — some don’t — to secure an all important roster spot.
But even if your feelings about May and June practices differ, you still shouldn’t concern yourself with Burks’ early practice exits. Sure, Burks has plenty of expectations — especially after he’s been unfairly labeled as A.J. Brown’s replacement — but he shouldn’t have an extra target on his back because of a few exits from OTA’s.
Either way, if you’re concerned about Burks’ early practice exits right now, don’t be.
He’s still a young rookie that’s working his way through the ins and outs of the NFL. Whether it’s conditioning, diving into the playbook, or putting in consistent work on the field.
If these issues persist into August or even September, then the discussion becomes a bit more valid. But until then, you should avoid expending energy on a topic that isn’t much of a concern right now.