Tennessee Titans tackle Taylor Lewan has been known to wear his heart on his sleeve.
So, when the 30-year-old Pro Bowler had a nice bounce-back game in a 25-16 win over the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium on Sunday, he couldn’t help but confess how redeeming the performance was after getting booed by fans during Tennessee’s Week 1 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
“Once Week 1 happened -- here’s the deal – I was playing like shit, and then I go and get an IV and I cruise back onto the field and our PA announcer announces that I’m back in the game, and these fans go and start booing. Now here’s the deal, I don’t know what that’s all about. I’m coming back from an ACL (injury) 10 months -- it’s a difficult process. I wasn’t playing well at all, and that was a really hard game to get over emotionally, mentally.
“I really wish I could articulate how difficult that was. It was just hard to hear the fans -- after seven, eight years, as much as I’ve tried to do for this city – boo when I came back out there…I was like, ‘Damn, that’s crazy how fast things turn.’ I’ll never forget that.”
Lewan gave up two sacks to Cardinals’ linebacker Chandler Jones two weeks ago and looked out of sorts the entire game. Then during pre-game warmups in Seattle a week ago, he hyperextended his knee and heard a pop, which led to the team doctors holding him out of the game as a precaution.
So Lewan had to wait until Sunday’s game against Indianapolis to vindicate himself in the eyes of Titans fans. The 6-foot-7 tackle succeeded, playing all 65 offensive plays without allowing a sack. The Titans’ offensive line also paved the way for 180 total rushing yards.
“Today I walked out there and felt like my old self mentally,” Lewan said. “I was moving a whole lot better; my pad levels were a whole lot better. I was more explosive and stronger. I’m just going to get better every single week…I needed this more than I think this team needed this. I needed to see that I could do it, to be left on an island again and that I could go block and do things and run left and sustain a block and get movement. Today was a great day.”
Lewan, who missed 11 games last season after tearing his ACL against the Houston Texans on Oct. 18, admitted his recovery at times was frustrating, particularly in the early stages of training camp.
When watching back film from the Arizona game, Lewan noticed inconsistencies in his game and disclosing that coming back from his ACL injury was a more daunting task than he initially thought it would be.
“When I was watching the film from Week 1, I was going a few things that were uncharacteristic of myself,” he said. “I was on my toes a lot, not really planting on my right leg, playing very high, my pad levels were very high, and it just put me into a lot of compromising situations…This ACL (recovery) has been a lot harder than I expected it to be.”
At the top of his game, Lewan is one of the top five tackles in the NFL. Following Sunday’s performance, he should have the confidence of a top-five tackle now as well.
Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_