NASHVILLE (BVM) – Kyle Philips made his presence known in the Tennessee Titans’ season opener against the New York Giants. The 5-foot-11, 189-pound wide receiver from UCLA had nine targets that turned into six receptions for 66 yards. He also had four punt returns for 62 yards, including a 46-yard return early in the game that set up Tennessee’s first touchdown drive. Philips led the Titans in targets, receptions and receiving yards in his NFL debut but he wasn’t satisfied.
“I didn’t feel like I was as reliable as I could’ve been today,” Philips told 104.5 The Zone’s Mickey Ryan. I definitely feel like I let him (Ryan Tannehill) and the team down in a couple areas, so I’m keeping my head down and going to work.”
Even if he isn’t satisfied, the UCLA wide out still had a positive first outing. One that showcased the relationship he has built with Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Since Tennessee traded AJ Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles during the 2022 NFL Draft, the Titans have basically retooled their entire wide receiver room.
The team drafted Philips and Treylon Burks, while adding former Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods during free agency. All the new faces gave equal opportunity to the receivers to develop a strong chemistry with Tannehill. Philips has done that.
“Kyle’s made a bunch of plays for me this training camp so built up that relationship and he’s shown that he can win consistently in practice so that translates over to the game,” Tannehill said after Sunday’s game.
The trust is there and on the final drive of the game, Tennessee’s veteran quarterback threw to Philips three times when the game was on the line. The two connected on a 21-yard pass that helped set the Titans up for the go–ahead field goal. Tennessee missed the field goal and the Titans lost to the Giants 21-20, but that doesn’t change the fact that early in the season Philips has earned the trust of his quarterback.
Big time throw and catch.
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) September 11, 2022
During Philips UCLA career, he was able to build that same report with his quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson. When Philips left the Bruins, he was fourth all-time in career receptions with 159 receptions. He most likely would have had even more receptions had the 2020 season not been shortened due to covid.
The former Bruin is a capable slot receiver and punt returner. His footwork has already been shown in his rookie debut. What he needs to do is continue to develop his route running so that he will be able to take advantage of the single coverage he’s likely to see as a third wide receiver.
At the very least, he seems to have become Tannehill’s safety valve, someone Tannehill can trust to be open as he goes through his progressions. That alone is a reason to be excited about the fifth–round pick from UCLA.
If his first game was a preview of what is to come, Philips has a bright future ahead of him as a wide receiver in the NFL.