Impressions from introductions of five new Titans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans trotted out their five newest players for their first media conversations in Tennessee.

Andre Dillard
Andre Dillard

Here are my first impressions.

Andre Dillard

The former Eagles first-round pick was pretty nervous. He’s clearly a soft-spoken guy, but he was even quivering a bit.

He said signing with the Titans was even more emotional for him than being picked 22nd in 2019 when he was in Nashville and took the stage on Broadway to get a hug from Roger Goodell.

His mom was in Titans gear in no time and he was impressed with how quickly she got her hands on two-toned blue merchandise.


Somehow, it’s a headline that he wants to be the team’s left tackle. What else would he want?

He said the Titans are seeking fast, athletic linemen who can get into space. He’s that kind of guy, but he agreed he still needs to mature as a run blocker who started out ahead as a pass blocker coming out of Mike Leach’s Washington State Air Raid offense.

“It feels like they really believe in me here and I believe in myself and my abilities and that this is a place where I can really come help the team and grow as a player and a person,” he said. “Ultimately it felt like the Titans could really be the next step for me.”

Surprisingly, he offered up his impression of the Eagles' offensive line coach, Jeff Stoutland.

Daniel Brunskill

The former 49er said he hasn’t talked position with the Titans though right guard certainly would seem the most natural spot for him. While he’s played all over, that’s where he has played the most.

He spoke about the efforts he’s made to be able to flip sides, which is very difficult for a lot of linemen. His versatility was definitely something that appealed to the Titans and he’s looking forward to helping set the culture, lead the line and help it mesh.

While PFF grades indicate he’s been a better pass protector than run blocker, he said part of the appeal of the Titans is that “they like to run the damn ball, so I like running the ball.”

He cleverly referred to former teammate George Kittle’s setup outside of Nashville as a compound and a cult.

Azeez Al-Shaair

Pronounced uh-ZEEZ, all-SHY-urr.

He comes out of a great 49ers’ defense, but while he played 89 percent of the team’s snaps in 2021 he was only part of 42 percent last year.

“For those four years, I was there we were top five I want to say almost every year. You get that type of depth, you get that type of bond with everybody, it makes it hard when you’ve got to leave,” he said. “At the same time, just for the development of my career and where my career is going, it’s the best thing for me just to part ways with them. I’m excited, I think I have so much to bring to the team not just as a football player but as a person, as a leader. I’m excited to share that with the guys.”

He was required to both cover receivers and take on offensive linemen.

He had a tough childhood that included being homeless, moving in with his grandmother with his seven siblings, getting everyone outside when he smelled smoke one night and watching her home burn down and spending a lot of time together in a one-room long-stay motel.

He said he’s taken a lot of time to reflect after signing what amounts to a one-year deal with $4.25 million guarantees.

Going undrafted out of Florida Atlantic was a giant disappointment for him as he had a picture in his head for how things would play out.

"I used to close my eyes when I was a child and we were staying in that motel and I would watch the draft and every time somebody would get up and say, ‘With the something pick of the NFL Draft they select’ I would just close my eyes and say my name,” he said. “I think my whole life I thought that’s what was going to be for me. SO when I went undrafted I was like, how could this happen?

“I was disappointed in myself because I realized for that moment my whole life I wanted to play in the NFL and God was giving me my opportunity but I was so ungrateful because it wasn’t happening how I wanted it to happen. At the end of the day, I can’t write a better story than God can have for me of for anybody. I always say it’s God’s story… I couldn’t write it any better.”

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He is much better at football than at guess-your-weight: He overshot mine by 25 pounds!

Arden Key

Key helped end the Titans' playoff chances last year with a key role in two Jaguars’ wins over Tennessee in he season’s last five weeks, including the season finale which was a win-and-in game for the AFC South title.

He said November and December are when you’re level of play has to increase and that we’ve all seen teams start off hot and fail to make the playoffs. That was the story of the Jacksonville, and Key, and the Titans last season.

A starting spot with the Titans is a big part of why he came to Nashville, as is what he’s joining in the pass rush the team has in place.

He’s displeased with the Jaguars after they let him leave for the Titans. (Denico Autry felt the same way when the Colts let him come here in 2021 and that’s worked out quite well.)

Luke Gifford

He said he came to Nashville on a spring break during his time at Nebraska and again for a Mogan Wallen concert.

“I’m excited,” he said of joining the Titans. “I know that wherever I go that my role is going to be first to just dominate on special teams and then just really do what I can to help the team. Hopefully, whether that’s a little bit of linebacker here and there or whatever they see for me is what I’ll do.”

“I could tell that they (saw) value in me and thought a lot of me and the opportunity to do more on defense is definitely something that I’ve wanted to do and I think this is a good place for it. I think I kind of identify with the organization and the way they play football.”

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