Taylor Lewan

Taylor Lewan emerged from the locker room at Saint Thomas Sports Park on Tuesday cracking a few jokes as he fist bumped reporters.

That type of jocularity was a rarity for Lewan or any other member of the Titans offensive line last season as the group struggled through positive COVID tests, injuries, Ty Sambrailo’s sudden mid-season retirement, and spurts of ineffectiveness.

But as the Titans wrapped up Day 2 of OTAs, Lewan admitted he went through a mourning period similar to quarterback Ryan Tannehill, one that required a bit of grieving and some personal reflection.

“Football is now fun for me again,” Lewan said. “If there’s any difference you guys want to know between last year and this year, I’m enjoying the hell out of myself now. Last year, let’s not get it twisted, that shit was miserable. …The first game was terrible; yeah, at the end of the year things started going well, but damn, it was just not fun.

“Every week was you don’t feel your best, you’re making 100 excuses in your head, and then you get done and got to go unpack all of those things. You can’t just pretend like it didn’t happen. I had to go and talk to a lot of people and figure that stuff out, and once we did, I feel a whole lot better. I feel more like myself than I ever have.”

The 2021 season was perhaps the most challenging of Lewan’s career. 

Former Arizona Cardinals edge rusher Chandler Jones abused him in Week 1 to the tune of three sacks, prompting a loud and resounding chorus of boos directed Lewan’s way from the Nissan Stadium crowd.

Those boos, Lewan admitted a few weeks later, got in his head and took a while to move past mentally and emotionally.

As the season progressed, it was clear Lewan was not the caliber of player he was prior to tearing his ACL in October of 2020.

The 30-year-old left tackle missed four games and played 845 offensive snaps, the lowest snap total of his career when starting 13 or more games. Lewan’s mobility was limited at time, specifically during training camp last July, and he disclosed that he struggled at various points during the season with dehydration, cramping, conditioning, and diminished blocking ability.

“There wasn’t a lot of finishing downfield compared to how it’s been in the past,” Lewan said. “That’s kind of how I made my name in this league by being a guy that finishes. I didn’t have the capability of doing that last year; I wasn’t in good enough shape to do that.”

But now, Lewan, who confessed that he would have retired had the Titans cut him during the offseason to create salary cap space, appears to be in much better shape and in better spirits as he begins his ninth year with the Titans.

“Being out here now, it’s already a world of a difference to me,” Lewan added. “I can put a helmet on, I’m not gasping for air for four or five plays, I can go a period and I’m laughing and talking trash to the boys — it’s a good time.”

Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_