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Front Page - Friday, October 1, 2021

Lewan: ‘I’ll never forget’ being booed

Taylor Lewan waves to the crowd, many of whom were booing, during player introductions before the Titans’ home game against the Colts. Lewan, who missed much of 2020 following knee surgery, had a bad opener against Arizona and missed the Seattle game after reinjuring the knee. - Photo by Jeffrey Brown | Icon Sportswire via AP

It can be hard for a 6-7, 310-pound man to be humbled. But that is exactly what happened to Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan as he recalls the debacle of the season opener when he gave up three sacks to Chandler Jones of Arizona.

For Lewan, who has enjoyed mostly favor from Titans fans over his eight-year career in Tennessee, the whole experience left him with questions, bewilderment and seeking – eventually finding redemption with his play Sunday in the Titans’ 25-16 victory over Indianapolis.

Lewan, in assessing what went wrong in the first game, acknowledges he probably had deluded himself into believing he was all the way back from a torn ACL in his right knee.

“Today was the first day where I felt like, ‘Man, I feel like myself again.’’’ Lewan said following Sunday’s win against the Colts. “There were times during camp where I felt good, and you try to speak things into existence – I feel great; I feel like my old self. And there were times I did feel that way.

“But when I got into a little bit of trouble in Week One, I was watching film and doing some things that are very uncharacteristic of myself. I was on my toes a lot, not really planting on my right leg, playing very high, with my pad level very high and it just put me into a lot of compromising situations.

“Not only physically was I not playing well, but mentally it was a very difficult thing to get over. It’s a process. This ACL has been a lot harder than I expected it to be.”

But as much as his physical play suffered in his return, Lewan admits the chorus of boos that greeted him upon his return after missing a couple of series in the opener bothered him even more.

“I was playing like (expletive) and I go and get an IV and I cruise back onto the field. Our PA announcer announces that I’m back in the game, and the fans start booing. I don’t know what that’s all about, but coming back from an ACL after 10 months it’s a difficult process, and yeah, I wasn’t playing well at all,” Lewan explains.

“That was a hard game to get over emotionally, mentally. It was a really (expletive) deal. I really wish I could articulate how difficult that was. It was just hard to hear the fans, after seven or eight years of as much as I tried to do for this team, boo.”

As the chorus of boos rained down upon him, Lewan recalls he just looked over at center Ben Jones in disbelief.

“I was looking over at Ben (Jones), and he was smiling and shaking his head, and I said, ‘Damn, that’s crazy how fast they just turn.” I’ll never forget that. It was a difficult 24 hours, a difficult 36 hours or a difficult 48 hours,” Lewan adds.

Lewan says he doesn’t blame the fans for their actions. Their motivation is simply for the Titans to win.

“I love this city and I love these fans. That was just really hard. That was a lot harder than I realized at the time I’m not mad at them for booing, because this is so much bigger than me,” he continues. “They want the Tennessee Titans to win. They don’t care what Taylor Lewan does; they want the Tennessee Titans to do well. I completely understood their frustration. It just put everything into perspective.”

Beyond getting past the anguish of what happened in the opener, Lewan says his play Sunday against the Colts and going forward was especially rewarding and confidence-building.

“I didn’t know if I was ever going to be the same again, so today was a special day for me,” he said after the win. “I needed today more than a lot of people understand.

“I was definitely more explosive and stronger. It’s going to be a cool process, because I’m just going to get better every single week, not only mentally but physically every single week. I needed this. I needed to show that I could go do it, to be left alone on the island again and be able to block again and to run left and be able to sustain a block and get movement.

“Today was a great day to feel those kinds of things.”

Terry McCormick publishes TitanInsider.com and appears 2-4 p.m. weekdays on the George Plaster Show on WNSR-AM 560/95.9 FM.