NASHVILLE – Cameron Batson, Chester Rogers and Mason Kinsey will be measured against one another in more way than one throughout the training camp.
The three are among a deep group of wide receivers who are jockeying for spots behind Pro Bowlers A.J. Brown and Julio Jones. But they are also the leading candidates to be the Tennessee Titans’ punt returner when the regular season opens.
“Obviously, we can watch how they handle (the ball) and coming off the jugs [machine], but I think the most important thing is being able to make great decisions in the game,” coach Mike Vrabel said Friday. “The preseason games … hopefully we can make (opponents) punt.”
If that doesn’t happen, two of the three have done the job in the NFL previously, and coaches can look at their history as part of their evaluation. One, in particular, has an extensive résumé in that regard.
Rogers was the Indianapolis Colts’ primary punt returner for most of his first four seasons in the league (2016-19). For his career, he has averaged 9.2 yards on 60 punt returns (he has fair caught 62 others). He had at least one return of 30 yards or more in each of his first three seasons and averaged better than 9.0 yards per return in three of those four years.
With him, therefore, the Titans reasonably can know what to expect.
“That’s something I do,” Rogers said. “I’ve been starting at it ever since I’ve been in the league. I take it very seriously, just like I do receiving. Absolutely, punt return is big to me.”
Batson did the job for the Titans briefly in 2018, when he made the team as an undrafted rookie. That season, he handled four punts and returned three for a total of four yards (the other was a fair catch).
Kinsey, an undrafted rookie out of Division III Berry College, has yet to play in an NFL regular-season or preseason.
“Are they strong with the ball?” Vrabel said. “Can they get us a first down after they catch it? Are they making good decisions? All those types of things, it goes into evaluating the returners.”