Titans left tackle Lewan determined to clean up penalties
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan believes playing football is the coolest job possible, and he loves being as physical as possible until he hears the whistle.
Go ahead, call him dirty. Doesn’t bother the brash Lewan.
What does bug him is feeling he is letting the team down.
So the man responsible for protecting Marcus Mariota’s back is ticked off at himself for drawing too many penalty flags. He knows he needs to clean up his act quickly.
“I have to be accountable for my actions, and my biggest issue is getting penalties right now,” Lewan said. “And I need to fix it, or it’s really going to hurt the team.”
Tennessee drafted the 6-foot-7, 309-pound Lewan out of Michigan with the 11th pick overall in 2014 and he took over at left tackle with the retirement of veteran Michael Roos. But Lewan’s reputation for physical play precedes him, and coach Ken Whisenhunt says opposing coaches alert officials before each game to watch the left tackle.
Lewan has been flagged seven times this season with three holding penalties and four for illegal use of hands after being penalized six times as a rookie in 11 games, according to STATS LLC.
In last week’s 14-13 loss to Buffalo, Lewan was flagged three times: twice for illegal use of hands and once for offensive holding. Buffalo declined one penalty, but Lewan apologized to his coaches, teammates and Tennessee fans after the game for his penalties.
“For me to sit and look in the mirror and I hurt the team with penalties is hard for me to swallow,” Lewan said Monday.
Whisenhunt said Lewan can clean up some of the penalties simply by not putting his hands in an opponent’s face, especially knowing he’s a target and that is a point of emphasis for officials. The coach said he talked with Lewan about the topic Sunday night.
“I know he feels badly about that and he’s going to work to correct it,” Whisenhunt said. “We can’t have those penalties. Those hurt us, they’re hard to overcome.”
Lewan is dealing with an injured left shoulder that caused him to leave last week’s game twice. Lewan says he doesn’t need surgery but needs to be vigilant with treatment. He was limited Wednesday at practice with Miami (1-3) visiting the Titans (1-3) on Sunday.
Aside from the penalties, Lewan so far is proving to be everything the Titans hoped for when they made him the first offensive tackle drafted by this franchise since Brad Hopkins in 1993. Lewan started six games as a rookie before an ankle injury sidelined him. Coaches then asked the lineman to step up as a leader for an offense that has played five rookies.
Lewan said recently he was a bit hesitant with right guard Chance Warmack and center Brian Schwenke in their third NFL seasons. The man who says he never has been shy easily took to the role.
“Talking comes naturally to me,” Lewan said. “I mean do I always say the right thing at the right time? No. Do I fumble over my words sometimes? Yeah, but it gets better. The more you do, the better you get.”
Veteran left guard Byron Bell says Lewan is a good guy and a good leader who will be a good tackle in the NFL.
“He’s special you know what I mean? He’s a little wild, but he’s the type of guy he is,” Bell said. “But when he’s on the field, he’s all about his business.”
Whisenhunt says it’s important when the better players help set the right tempo and tone, and the coach thinks Lewan speaking up is a good thing.
“A lot of times if you’re a good player you can say whatever you want and get away with it, and he tries to do that no question.”
Notes: RG Chance Warmack (right knee) practiced fully Wednesday and said he will play against Miami. CB Cody Riggs (knee) also practiced fully. LB Avery Williamson (hamstring), NT Sammie Hill (right knee/illness) and S Michael Griffin did not practice. TE Anthony Fasano (concussion) and LB Deiontrez Mount (knee) were limited.
AP NFL websites: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL
Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker