Tennessee Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan is feeling a lot different in 2022 than he was in 2021.
The former No. 11 overall suffered a cruciate ligament rupture last season and hasn’t had a full offseason to get ready – and at least it showed early on.
Lewan fought his way out of goal, highlighted by former Arizona Cardinals edge rusher Chandler Jones, who dominated him in a season-opening five-sack loss.
After this miserable performance, Lewan was able to slowly recover as the season progressed.
He finished with the team’s highest Pro Football Focus grade (71.9) in pass protection, allowing four sacks overall and the least pressure (21) in the starting group.
Lewan takes part in volunteer organized team activities and is already noticing a big difference between last year and this year.
“Compared to before, there weren’t many downfield finishers. That’s how I made my name in this league by being a guy who finishes and I wasn’t able to do that last year,” Lewan admitted via Paul Kuharski.
“I wasn’t fit enough for that. And being out here now is a world of difference to me. I can put a helmet on, I’m not gasping for four, five games, I can go through a whole period and I’m laughing and talking trash to the guys; It’s a good time.”
Lewan’s troubles caught up with him last year, leading to a “miserable” experience in 2021. However, the 30-year-old says football is now fun again and he has explained why that is.
“I’m enjoying football again now,” said Lewan. “If there’s a difference between last year and this year, I’m fucking enjoying it now. Last year, let’s not twist it, it was (expletive) miserable… The first game was horrible, up until mid-season. Yes, by the end of the year things were starting to go well, but damn it just wasn’t fun. Every week it was like you’re not feeling well, you make up a hundred excuses in your head. And then you’re done, you have to unpack all this stuff, you can’t just pretend it didn’t happen. I’ve had to go and talk to a lot of people and find out and unpack stuff and once we’ve done that I feel a lot better. I feel more like myself than ever before.”
Lewan, whom some considered a potential cut candidate this offseason, is entering what could be a pivotal year for him at Nashville.
The veteran has a year left on contract in 2023 but there’s no dead money if the Titans cut him. Also, Tennessee could already have their future replacement in 2022 in third-round and offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere.
For now, Lewan is locked as a Tennessee starter at left and appears to be heading into his ninth season with plenty of steam.