Lewis, Butler: Titans signed them for talent, not Pats’ ties
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans have a definite New England Patriots influence these days.
Running back Dion Lewis believes the Titans’ acquisition of ex-Patriots like himself and cornerback Malcolm Butler says more about their talent than their background.
“I wouldn’t say (they’re trying to replicate New England here),” Lewis said Thursday.
“I’d just say they’re trying to bring good football players here — good, smart football players. I’m just happy they thought I’m one of those players to help.”
The Titans announced their latest free agent additions Thursday after both players came in and signed their new multi-year deals.
The Patriots’ connections in Music City began prior to the 2016 season, when the Titans hired Jon Robinson as the team’s general manager. In the 2017 offseason, Robinson signed starting cornerback Logan Ryan, a former Patriots starter.
A few months ago, the Titans made Mike Vrabel — a former Patriots linebacker — the team’s head coach, and then agreed to terms with Butler and Lewis on Tuesday.
“The New England Patriots are the New England Patriots, and the Tennessee Titans are the Tennessee Titans,” Butler said. “But it’s all about having great players, great coaches, no matter what organization it is. You know everybody has the same, equal opportunity in the NFL.”
Lewis is looking forward to working in a backfield with one of Robinson’s first draft picks, 2015 Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry. The 5-foot-8, 195-pound Lewis said he’s used to sharing carries and that the 6-3, 247-pound Henry should make for a diverse running game in new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur’s offense.
“I think it will be a huge challenge for defenses because you’ve got a guy a lot bigger than me, and then a guy like me that is quick and can break tackles, too,” said Lewis, who ran for a career-best 896 yards last season . “So I definitely think it will make the defense be on their toes on who is in the game. I think that we’ll definitely be able to work together and use each other’s skillset to benefit each other.”
Lewis also caught more than 30 passes in two of the past three seasons.
“It’s just using my quickness, using my smarts,” Lewis said. “When I see a linebacker trying to guard me, I know I’m expected to win. So anything short of that is not acceptable to me.”
Lewis, Butler and Ryan were all part of the Patriots team that won the Super Bowl after the 2016 season. Butler said he’s looking forward to re-uniting with Ryan after his former teammate encouraged him to join him.
“Me and Logan together, man, (it was) I got the fast guy and he got the biggest guy (in New England),” Butler said. “We’ve just got great communication and chemistry over the three years we played together. He’s a good friend of mine.”