Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, December 17, 2021

Tennessee Titans: Reflective Lewan happy with 8-year Titans run

The Titans face a big salary cap hit if they keep Taylor Lewan next season. Lewan, who just played his 100th game for the franchise, says he’s happy to have helped change the team’s culture. - Photo by Fred Kfoury III | Icon Sportswire

Through eight years, Taylor Lewan has had an up-and-down career for the Tennessee Titans.

There have been the highs of Pro Bowl selections and playoff wins and the lows of a season-ending knee injury last year, the terrible seasons at the start of his professional career and plenty of other bumps in the road along the way.

After Sunday’s 20-0 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Lewan took a little bit of time to reflect and even felt some empathy with the players in the visiting locker room, who are going nowhere fast with a 2-11 record and a coach in Urban Meyer who – let’s just say – is having a tough transition from the college game to the NFL.

“I’ve been in that situation before – 2014, 2015. I know what those guys are going through. It’s tough. You’re in December, and it’s a five-game season for them,” Lewan says.

When Lewan arrived as one of then-general manager Ruston Webster’s first-round picks out of the University of Michigan, he was a talented kid who took over at left tackle, continuing the legacy left by Michael Roos and Brad Hopkins before him with the franchise.

There was a growing-up period with silly penalties coming into play. But these days, Lewan is a married father of two and proud of what he has been able to accomplish in eight years in Tennessee.

In fact, Sunday’s win over the Jaguars was his 100th career game.

“I am extremely appreciative just to be on this football team, and you don’t find a lot of guys in the NFL that play for one team,” he says. “To be here eight years – and I think only Brett Kern has been here longer than me at this point – I’m just extremely grateful to the Tennessee Titans.”

There is the question of whether or not the Titans might move on from Lewan after this year. He signed a five-year, $80 million contract extension in 2018. That deal has two more years to run if he plays it out. Lewan, 30, is scheduled to make $12.9 million in base salary, and if the Titans decided to move on, they could do so with a dead money cap hit of $1.79 million after the season.

No matter, Lewan is grateful to be a Titan and to help build a contender that Sunday locked up its sixth straight winning season, improving to 9-4.

“To be a part of something from 2014 and 2015 and to help change a culture – I’m not sitting here saying I changed the culture – but to be able to help change the culture of this team, along with Jon Robinson, along with Mike Vrabel, along with the guys they’ve brought in, guys like Jeffery Simmons, Kevin Byard, Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry, A.J. Brown,” Lewan points out. “We’ve had so many guys that have come with an attitude to help change the culture of this team, and I’m appreciative to be a part of that.

“When I’m done, and I hang up the cleats for the last time, I can be proud of that, knowing that in my relationship with this team, I’m going to leave it in a better place than I found it. And I’m really proud of that.”

As for playing his 100th career game, Lewan acknowledges he wishes it hadn’t been delayed by penalties. He missed all but five games last year with a torn ACL and four this season with nagging injuries.

“One hundred games. That’s cool,” he says. “It could have happened a few games ago, you know what I’m saying. So we’ve got to make sure and keep things rolling.”

He said he looks at linemates Ben Jones and Rodger Saffold, both of whom have been in the league longer than him, and says he still has plenty left in the tank.

“One hundred games is pretty cool. You’ve got guys like Ben Jones and Rodger (Saffold) who have played about 130 or 150, so I’m sitting there like, I’ve got more left in me, a lot more,” Lewan adds.

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