By TERESA M. WALKER AP Pro Football Writer
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Titans coach Mike Vrabel says Aaron Brewer is tougher than a $2 steak as the undrafted offensive lineman from Texas State tries to become Tennessee’s new left guard.
Dillon Radunz is trying to prove he can make the leap from North Dakota State to the NFL at right tackle.
Those are the two spots up for grabs in training camp on an offensive line looking to make serious improvement over 2021 when Ryan Tannehill was sacked 47 times — more than all but one other NFL quarterback.
And both Brewer and Radunz want those jobs to help block for running back Derrick Henry.
“I feel like it’s my job, and I feel like I got to win every day,” Brewer said. “This is the NFL. Every day you come into compete. … There’s new players coming in to compete. They’re coming to take it too. I feel like it’s mine, and I got to work every day to keep. I have to earn it every day.”
Radunz has the same mindset: “Obviously I’m there, I’m in that spot and you’re like, ‘Yeah, that’s the mindset.’ It’s my job. I need to protect it.”
The Titans drafted the 6-foot-6, 301-pound Radunz with the 53rd overall pick in 2021 to be a starter. Radunz struggled not only making the leap from the Football Championship Subdivision in college but played only one game in 2020 because of the pandemic. He was an emergency starter as a third option at left tackle last December.
Then Radunz was one of the Titans’ offseason award winners for how hard he worked. Offensive coordinator Todd Downing said Tuesday that Radunz has been committed to trying to improve in so many areas that they asked him to focus on including both physical development and individual techniques.
“The hard work has been really cool to see,” Downing said. “It means a lot to him.”
The 6-1, 295-pound Brewer joined the Titans as a camp body in 2020 and wound up doing more than making the final roster cuts for two straight seasons. Brewer played in 12 games as a rookie and another 12 last season, starting five games as the Titans dealt with injuries that forced them to play an NFL-most 91 players.
Brewer is trying to replace 6-5, 325-pound veteran Rodger Saffold, a salary cap casualty in March now in Buffalo. Brewer got some tips from Saffold on where to place his hands and how to run through whoever he’s blocking.
A lineman who has been undersized even playing high school football in Texas is used to fighting against bigger defensive linemen. Brewer leans on his athleticism, speed and technique to battle bigger defensive linemen.
“People can say all they want to do, but if you cut on the film and the tape, I win against the best of the best, the biggest,” Brewer said. “So you can say what you want to say about my weight but If you look at the film, film don’t lie.”
One of the defensive linemen that Brewer has been going against every day is Jeffery Simmons, one of the three Titans to get at least eight sacks last season. Simmons said he’s faced off against plenty of bigger guards than Brewer.
“He got the heart of a lion, and that’s the type of guy, that’s the type of things we need on the offensive line,” Simmons said. “Just his grit.”
That’s why Vrabel compared Brewer to a cheap, chewy cut of meat.
“He understands the angles and trying to get the guys, and understands pad level and technique,” Vrabel said of Brewer. “And those are a lot of things that he can do that somebody that’s bigger can’t, just the way that he moves. I just like the way he competes. I like the way that he shows up to work every day and is willing to compete.”
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