Well removed from early-career captaincy failure, Taylor Lewan wants to lead more

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The first time Taylor Lewan had a big position of leadership with the Titans, it didn’t go well and I was puzzled by how things were so complicated.

A year removed from being the 11th pick in the draft, a well-regarded, highly athletic left tackle, he had maturing to do. But naming his a captain didn’t seem like a huge stretch for Ken Whisenhunt.


“I think for a while, captain, there was a piece of me I lost trying to be that All-American guy,” he said in a Zoom chat with media Thursday. “Then I come in here, and Ken makes me a captain my second year, and I’m trying to be what I think people need me to be. (Mike) Mularkey came, stripped the ‘C’ away and all that. Whether that was right or wrong doesn’t really matter. I think I was just trying to be something that I wasn’t.”

Ryan Tannehill will almost assuredly take over Marcus Mariota’s captaincy this season, and Ben Jones is an incumbent. So there may not be room for Lewan to be a captain. But he wants to take on more of a leadership role for a team that will be without three players who’ve been big leaders Delanie Walker, Jurrell Casey and Wesley Woodyard. [Unlocked.]

“Now that I kind of am more grounded and know who I am as a person, and know what I can give to this team and know what I can give in this whole career of mine, it’s important to me to take on a bigger leadership role,” he said. “That is important. It’s going to help the team and that’s the most important thing….

“I look forward to taking up that challenge and being a good leader for this team and doing the best I can to help turn that page to where we do get farther than we did last year.”LewanZoom

Heading into his seventh season, Lewan is now the longest-tenured offensive player on the team and his $16 million base salary is second only to Ryan Tannehill.

But he was suspended for the first quarter of last season for a violation of the NFL policy against performance enhancers, a violation he said he committed unknowingly. He said the key to a faster start this season is “me not getting suspended.”

Critics of his leadership have included a Titans’ great.

Lewan took that to heart at the time, he didn’t bristle, he didn’t get defensive.

Now he said his bosses have every reason to have expected more.

“I think if I was the coaches right now I’d be pretty pissed off that I haven’t taken on a leadership role yet,” he said. “I think I’ve done a poor job of stepping up as a leader, and that’s been by choice and a little more by fear than anything else because of how I’ve been bit in the past trying to think, ‘Oh, I don’t want to be something I’m not.’

apple icon 144x144 precomposed“Just like I said before, realizing who I am and realizing what I can bring to the table is really important. I owe it to this team to be a better leader.”

Rodger Saffold played 12 games next to Lewan last year. He said he sees the capacity in Lewan to lead the way he’s talking about and likes the way his linemate is trending.

“I feel like it’s more of just what you do rather than what you say,” he said. “That’s kind of what I’ve learned throughout the years in the league, and he’s been doing that. Being more boisterous so that he could be able to help his teammates. I think is fantastic.

“I know that you guys know this but a lot of left tackles are usually captains on the team, which I feel like would be a goal of Taylor’s. It’s totally understandable. As offensive linemen, we’re considered just a hardhat, blue-collar, hard-working guys, and I think that’s something that anybody can look up to. So, I think that the possibilities are kind of endless for Taylor.”

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