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The Tennessee Titans used more punt returners in Monday’s loss to the Buffalo Bills than they did in either of the last two NFL seasons.

And there is no telling who – or how many – will be next.

That job is one of the many areas that looks unsettled following the 41-7 defeat that dropped Tennessee to 0-2 on the season. Rookie wide receiver Kyle Philips and veteran safety Amani Hooker each muffed one – each had only one opportunity – which forced coaches to turn to veteran wide receiver Robert Woods for Buffalo’s final punt. Woods called for a fair catch and handled the opportunity without an issue.

“Ball security and taking care of the football is critical,” coach Mike Vrabel said following the contest. “It’s a recipe for defeat if you can’t take care of the football.”

The Titans already were in a hole when Philips botched his opportunity with a little more than eight minutes to play in the third quarter. He tried for a fair catch at his own 14 but stumbled as the ball arrived, and it bounced off his left shoulder. Buffalo recovered at the 20 and four plays later kicked a field goal that made it 27-7.

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Hooker mishandled his only try – the first of his career – in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter, but rookie cornerback Tre Avery bailed him out with a recovery at the Tennessee 36.

Philips, the fifth-round pick out of UCLA, created optimism about what he could provide in the return game when he averaged 18.6 yards per return on five returns during the preseason. That only increased when he went 46 yards with his first official opportunity (it is still the longest in the NFL thus far this season).

However, he muffed one early in the fourth quarter against the Giants when the Titans led by seven (20-13). New York recovered at the Titans’ 11, but Philips’ defense gave him a respite with an interception (hooker got it) in the end zone 1:38 later.

The one against Buffalo made it two straight muffs. Still, Vrabel said he is not necessarily ready to give up on Philips in that role, but he certainly wants to think he has seen the last of the issues with fielding them.

“I think he’s done a nice job on the preseason,” Vrabel said. “… I guess we’ll have to see. That’s certainly been something that’s hurt us here the past couple weeks.”

Last season, Chester Rogers handled 50 of 51 punts for the Titans. The lone exception was one fair catch by Mason Kinsey. In 2020, Kalif Raymond handled 34 out of 35. The outlier during that campaign was one fair catch by Cameron Batson.

In 2019, the Titans used five different punt returners but never more than two in a game because – of course – they did not have the kind of problems that arose during Monday’s contest.