Undrafted rookie free agent Cameron Batson is carving out a nice role for himself in the Tennessee Titans offense.
During the Tennessee Titans’ 34-10 dismantling of the New England Patriots, I received a text that I found very interesting. It simply read: “Who is Cameron Batson and where did he come from?”
Good question. It was one that I asked on the first day of Training Camp.
Every year in Training Camp, a litany of no-name players take the field with a longshot to even get a sniff at the final 53 man roster. With most of those spots already locked up at the start of the preseason, guys at the back of the roster that nobody has heard of don’t stand much of a chance.
But for Batson, things quickly seemed like they had a chance to go in a different direction. The preseason standout gained the trust of both head coach Mike Vrabel and quarterback Marcus Mariota, allowing him to shine and ultimately be in consideration for the final 53-man roster.
As a high schooler in Oklahoma, Batson played both receiver and quarterback, also competing on a state-champion basketball team. Additionally, Batson was the valedictorian of his graduating class.
In his four years playing college football at Texas Tech, Batson didn’t miss a game. He had some success with Patrick Mahomes, but never really produced to a consistently high level. One thing that did remain consistent, however, was his intellect, being named a finalist for the “Campbell Award,” given annually to the best college football player-scholar in the country.
Ultimately, Batson made the cut on the Titans roster at the end of Training Camp. The team saw his versatility (Batson plays receiver and can also return both punts and kicks) as a plus and put him on the squad. It was a day of relief, celebration, and even prayer for Batson.
Batson said via the Titans’ official website that he “sat there” in general manager Jonth Robinson’s office “and prayed.” He added that he “just wanted to give God the glory, with everything that is going on good or bad, because without Him nothing is possible.”
The feel-good story did not last very long. The Titans released Batson just two games into the season, though they did add him back to the practice squad once he cleared waivers. It was a decision that didn’t sit well with Batson.
“I’m not going to lie, I was a little upset,” Batson said of the situation following the Titans’ defeat of the Patriots. “I called my parents, I was like: ‘I didn’t get the opportunity that I wanted.’ But I wasn’t discouraged, every day in practice I just tried to make a statement and make a point that I still belong on this team.”
Yet, Batson dug deep and was able to again find his way onto the Titans’ active roster just over a month later. This time, Batson said his motto was, “Stay, just stay. Do whatever you can to stay on. Just make an impact, whether it’s special teams, offense, whatever, I was just trying to stay on the team.”
While Batson hasn’t exactly turned into Randy Moss or anything remotely close to that for the Titans, he has proven to be a reliable weapon. Against the Patriots, Batson tapped his toes in bounds to haul in a 26-yard pass on a corner route to the sideline.
“I know I would’ve gotten in trouble by Coach Rob [Moore] if I didn’t drag it or get both feet in,” Batson said regarding the play. “So I definitely just made sure I made the catch so we can keep the drive going.”
Mariota delivered a perfect throw to Batson on the play, and the quarterback is seeing his young receiver making strides. “He’s explosive,” said Mariota. “He brings another type of complement to what that receivers room is. Those guys all have different roles and different play styles.”
Batson says that he feels he and Mariota’s chemistry continuing to develop. “It’s been good, it’s really just staying consistent. I’m getting a feel for [Marcus] as far as what he likes to throw, how he likes to throw the ball, what he’s reading and everything.”
With a pair of strong efforts against the Cowboys on Monday Night Football and the Patriots, it seems like Batson will be sticking around on the Titans’ active roster for a little while. That being the case, Batson’s focus remains on being available and being effective.
“I’m a smaller guy, I’m a utility guy. A lot of different offenses have trouble finding the smaller guy and fitting him in and understanding their role. I think Coach [Matt] LaFleur and the offense, they’ve done a great job of helping me find a role on this team. Just keep executing and being the best that I can.”
Especially with some of the injuries, the Titans receivers have dealt with as of late, Batson has a chance to carve out a nice role for himself in the team’s offense. As of now, he’s taking full advantage.
Cover image: USA Today/Jim Brown