NASHVILLE — Mike Vrabel took care to shape many of the Tennessee Titans’ habits in the coach’s image since taking the head job in 2018. Since Day 1 and well into Year 3, players holding their locker room accountable stands as a hallmark of a Vrabel-led team.
Sophomore wide receiver AJ Brown needed no time to take that policy to heart.
Brown appears as the featured guest on the latest episode of the Bussin’ With The Boys podcast, hosted by Tennessee left tackle Taylor Lewan and former Titans linebacker Will Compton. Among the topics discussed were the Ole Miss product’s Top 3 NFL wide outs, SEC bribery and the famous pre-draft, shirtless shot of he and Seahawks receiver D.K. Metcalf.
What Brown’s Tennessee teammates picked up on early and often in his rookie season, though, was a unique ability to lead.
“AJ as a rookie was one of the more asshole rookies I’ve ever met, but I mean that as a compliment,” joked Lewan. “AJ will call anybody out whenever. I remember, we were in camp. I put some music on and AJ’s walking out, you have to walk past the o-line to go to practice, and AJ looked over…we had some girl music playing. And AJ, rookie, hasn’t played a game yet, and he goes ‘That’s why our offensive linemen suck!'”
The comment by Lewan was made in jest, but the three-time Pro Bowler citing Brown’s proclivity for checking his teammates comes as no surprise.
On the first drive of the second half in the Titans’ Week 10 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, Lewan received an unnecessary roughness flag for pushing a Chiefs player after the whistle had blown. That penalty came on the heels of a three-yard carry by running back Derrick Henry. it was the first of two fouls by Lewan on that plagued Tennessee’s early efforts to best Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City in Nashville. Brown admits on the podcast that he did not initially seek that role but, as his comfort level with his teammates grew, he felt his voice could be used efficiently.
That “asshole rookie” Brown let his star tackle hear it.
Alpha male energy from the receiver position is a recent trend for the Titans. Lewan, regarded as one of the top talents in that locker room and the face most associated with the team prior to Henry’s breakout in 2019, possesses alpha energy of his own. But this trend Vrabel instills in player-on-player accountability serves guys like this so well. You can have all the accolades and be atop your respective profession and still need humbling by a teammate working hard to make sure all parties accomplish the collective goal. That Brown learned one of Vrabel’s most crucial lessons 10 games into his first NFL season creates a trickle-down affect many coaches preach about but rarely accomplish.
Vrabel wants his Titans players to police themselves. AJ Brown’s actions proves he can be one of the extensions of his head coach the Tennessee needs him to be.
Subscribe to Bussin’ With The Boys with Taylor Lewan and Will Compton here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/bussin-with-the-boys/id1464240720
Featured Image: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports.