by Terry McCormick
These days, Taylor Lewan seems a bit more subdued. Several months of unrest will do that to you sometimes.
To review, since the 2015 season began, Lewan has struggled with a shoulder injury, which in part caused his play to drop off last year; saw the coach who drafted him, Ken Whisenhunt, fired in mid-season; been stripped of his captaincy; had his banner photo at Nissan Stadium taken down; listened to much off-season banter about being switched to right tackle; and had his best friend on the Titans, Zach Mettenberger, jettisoned just over a week ago.
So it’s no wonder that Lewan isn’t as jovial as he was a year ago at this time when he was riding high. But judging from his work in OTAs, Lewan is showing up this season with a renewed passion, perhaps made stronger by what he has endured over the past several months. In Tuesday’s first day of OTAs, Lewan could be seen blocking downfield on the second level several times in running drills.
And in his third season now, his example should be one other players are following.
“Taylor has been, since the off-season program started, one of our top guys in the weight room,’’ Coach Mike Mularkey said. “When we’ve been out here, he’s been one of the top leaders out here, doing everything we’ve asked. He’s consistently finishing plays like we’re asking him to. He’s done everything we’ve asked and probably more than we’ve asked to step into that leadership role.”
For his part, Lewan said he isn’t trying to be a leader, just trying to be a good left tackle – something he mentioned no less than five times in a seven-minute or so interview Thursday. The guess is that when something you cherish could potentially be taken away, such as moving to the right side, you make sure to let people know how much it does mean to you.
“My commitment is where it’s been. My commitment has been the same I think. I’m doing what I’m asked to do. I don’t think I’ve gone above and beyond. I haven’t tried to be a leader. I’m not trying to be a leader. I’m trying to be a left tackle. So if that’s what being a leader is, I guess that’s what I’m doing, but all I’m trying to do is be a left tackle,” Lewan said.
The Titans drafted tackle Jack Conklin with their first pick this year, and though the door was left open for him to perhaps play left tackle, Conklin has been on the right thus far in OTAs, with Lewan remaining to protect Marcus Mariota’s blind side.
Lewan indicated that he received assurances from both Mularkey and Jon Robinson while all the right tackle talk was hovering in the off-season.
“I’m here to be the best left tackle I can possibly be for this team, and that’s what I came in (to do),” Lewan said. “That’s the conversations I had with Jon Robinson, and that’s the conversation I had with Mularkey. That’s what I’ve been trying to do all along. As far as compliments go, I’ve been complemented before, so they’re just words.”
For all the lower key approach, however, there was one subject that did get Lewan fired up – the Titans’ 5-27 mark over the past two years.
“You play in the NFL for two years, you win five games, I think that goes under (expletive). It’s (expletive) when you only win five games in two years. We want to win,” Lewan said.
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