NASHVILLE – Craig Aukerman says the Tennessee Titans have options in the event they need a punt returner for Monday’s game against the Buffalo Bills.
That is largely an expression of faith rather than a statement of fact from the special teams coach.
Rookie wide receiver Kyle Philips was a limited participant in Friday’s practice, which was a step up from a day earlier. The fifth-round draft pick out of UCLA sat out the week’s first workout with a shoulder injury sustained during Sunday’s loss to the New York Giants. He was the only one of three players who took part in the practice after having sat out a day earlier.
However, Philips was in a non-contact yellow jersey, an indication that he is not yet 100 percent.
“We’ve got a lot of guys back there that have been catching [punts] – Amani Hooker, Robert Woods, Treylon Burks,” Aukerman said Friday. “Those guys have been doing it during training camp, and they will continue to get reps at it just in case something happens to Kyle.”
Hooker never has returned a punt in three-plus seasons. Woods has one career punt return, and that was in 2014. Burks, another rookie, had 13 punt returns in college, all but one of them three years ago.
With an average of 15.5 yards on four returns, including one return for 46 yards, Philips is the NFL’s leader after Week 1. That makes him not only the best but the most experienced option.
It makes sense that the Titans will want him back in that role – if at all possible – this week.
Buffalo’s injury report was unchanged from Thursday.
The complete Titans-Bills injury report for Friday:
Did not practice: G Nate Davis (knee), CB Kristian Fulton (hamstring), RB Dontrell Hilliard (hamstring) and OL Jamarco Jones (elbow). Limited participation: OLB Ola Adeniyi (neck), wide receiver Kyle Philips (shoulder) and OL Dillon Radunz (neck). Full participation: DB Lonnie Johnson Jr. (groin), C Ben Jones (not injury related) and T Taylor Lewan (knee).
Did not practice: CB Dane Jackson (knee), DT Ed Oliver (ankle) and DT Tim Settle (calf). Limited participation: none. Full participation: OL Tommy Doyle (foot) and TE Quintin Morris (hamstring).