The Tennessee Titans gambled during the offseason releasing cornerbacks Malcolm Butler, Adoree’ Jackson and Desmond King II.
But the team was presumably betting big on Kristian Fulton developing into a true No. 1 cornerback, which he appears on track to be through two weeks of the season.
Officially credited with one tackle and a pass defensed, Fulton held Seahawks receiver D.K. Metcalf to one reception for eight yards on five targets, according to Pro Football Focus, effectively taking away one side of the field from Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson.
Beyond stifling Metcalf on the field, Fulton appeared to get in the star receiver’s head. His frustration boiled over after several plays as Fulton was the object of Metcalf’s aggression several times on Sunday.
“I think he has played well,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. “We had high expectations for Kristian with how he performed in the offseason and how he performed in training camp. Confidence is a large part of life and football and obviously most importantly playing corner.
“You get beat, you come back. You made a mistake, he came back, made a play, and got us off the field on third down. Those are all really positive things and I thought he did a nice job of not getting into anything after the whistle.”
Although a small sample size, Fulton has been Tennessee’s top cornerback through two weeks. In addition to rendering Metcalf ineffective, Fulton helped hold Arizona Cardinals receiver A.J. Green to just two receptions for 25 yards on six targets as his primary assignment.
In fact, quarterbacks have a completion percentage of 33 and a passer rating of 42.4 when targeting Fulton this year, according to Pro-Football-Reference. He has allowed just 1.3 yards per target and has three passes defensed this season.
After a solid rookie season — 16 tackles, one interception, one tackle for loss, one QB hit — Fulton, a 2020 second-round pick, was counted on to lead the secondary along with 10-year veteran Jackrabbit Jenkins. But at 32, Jenkins may be better suited as a No. 2, allowing Fulton to draw the opposing team’s top receivers.
"It's fun going against some of the top guys in the league, and just getting that opportunity each week," Fulton said.
“I feel like the game has slowed down for me a lot this year. The coaches have been helping me with film. I’m just trying to make plays and I’m just trying to make sure I build up on my games throughout the week in practice…It’s great when the coaches believe in you; it gives you an extra boost of confidence. And I don’t want to let them down.”
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