NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In a contract year, Avery Williamson wants to make sure he’s a complete player.

He’s been an every-down inside linebacker for some time now, and a pretty good one.

But a couple botched plays in pass coverage against tight ends in 2016 have stuck to him, and while he’ll be on the field on third down the team went and got a youngster in Jayon Brown it thinks can be a better compliment as the nickel linebacker than Sean Spence was.

 

“I had a few plays last year when I wasn’t the best in pass coverage, but I mean, shoot I was out there the most,” he said. “OTAs, mini camp, camp, I made it a point to get better in my pass coverage and to continue to work on the run game as well. …I feel like I’ve gotten a lot smarter in my angles and stuff.

“We can be a whole lot better in pass coverage. I feel like that part of my game is really going to solidify me and make me into a complete linebacker. I’ve just got to continue to work at my game.”

Outside of Randall Godfrey, it’s hard to name a consistent middle or inside linebacker in the Titan era, a guy who made plays against the run and in the pass game. During the team’s extended time as a 4-3 front, that middle linebacker was generally a two-down guy who left the field in the nickel package.

That’s why Williamson qualifies as a guy who should be part of things long-term. He’s heading into his fourth season and will be a free agent after 2017.

Williamson said he added muscle and has a better body than he did last year.

At a time of year when praise is parsed out to just about everyone, coach Mike Mularkey’s talk of Williamson has stood out.

“Avery has been impressive,” Mularkey said. “Avery is faster, he is stronger. He looks like a different player in regards to the way he’s reacting in the run game. He wants to get better every time he is on the field.

“I think he’s gotten better (vs. tight ends). That was one of the things he knew he needed to improve on. I think he’s done a better job covering than he has in the past.”

The improvements aren’t only physical, according to Wesley Woodyard, the veteran who lines up next to Williamson in the team’s base defense.

“It’s clicking for him,” Woodyard said. “He’s taking the thought process out of it and that makes him a little faster.”

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