Friday, May 9, 2014
Titans, Lewan need to monitor nasty streak
By Paul Kuharsky
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Titans have had a couple quality mauling offensive tackles during their time in Tennessee.
The Titans' Mike Martin said he's confident that Taylor Lewan, his former teammate at Michigan, won't present the team with any off-field issues.
Jon Runyan and David Stewart were right tackles who didn’t have the feet and movement skills that make new first-round pick Taylor Lewan a left tackle.
The nasty streak in Lewan is akin to what Runyan and Stewart brought. And it’s something the Titans may need to monitor.
While it makes Lewan a quality offensive lineman, it may have also contributed to him allegedly threatening to rape a classmate at Michigan and face three misdemeanor charges stemming from a campus fight.
“You have to have a certain mentality on the field if you’re going to be that physical guy because people are going to challenge you,” said Runyan, now a United States Representative from New Jersey’s 3rd district.
Taylor Lewan talks
On accusations he threatened to rape a classmate in 2009:
"Anytime you see a person and someone says another man threatened a woman, it doesn't matter who it is or if you've even heard of this person before, you're obviously going to think this person is a bad person. And I'm not here to defend either the friend in that situation or the girl. I will say that I never said those things. My biggest thing is this is a fresh start for all of us. As far as the fans go, give me the opportunity to prove myself, or prove myself wrong."
On talking to police at age 17:
"It's uncomfortable. The biggest uncomfortable things about it is someone said that you threatened someone, especially a woman. There are golden rules. You don't do that. To know that my mom hears those things, she's my mother. She doesn't want to hear those things. She raised me much better than that..."
"There is a reason why it was dropped in 2009. The police dropped all that stuff. I'm not going to get in too many detail of it, just because I want to be sensitive to the situation obviously because it's still really fresh in people's minds.
If you didn't say it, why did teammates reportedly say you did?
"When the investigation was opened back up with the University of Michigan, I never heard anybody really, that was never brought up that a teammate said I said those things. I can't think of a reason why they would do that. When it comes to my teammates and my friends, I'm about as loyal as a dog. So I can't imagine why anyone would say that."
On the Titans believing him:
"If I was these two (GM Ruston Webster and coach Ken Whisenhunt), I would absolutely have red flags when you first hear those things. But one of the reasons why they picked me is they don't believe I'm that kind of person, or I like to think that."
Runyan knows Lewan as the two both played for the Wolverines. The second-term Congressman spoke to The Midday 180 in Nashville on Thursday.
“You’ve got to basically do your stuff, you’ve got to take your shots in there at them, and push them around a little bit and truly just be a jerk on the field. But you can’t live in society like that because you’ll wind up being locked up. So you’ve got to be able to have the ability to turn it on and off and I really think the really good players, the people who are going to ply, a lot of the time have that ability and I think Taylor has it.”
Lewan agreed with Runyon’s idea.
“There is no doubt about it, there is a way you need to act on the field and there is a way to act off the field,” he said. “There is a time and a place for everything. Personally, as far as my personality goes, it’s really easy to judge me as one of those guys based on how I play football, because that’s how most of the public sees me. As just a football player. But off the field, I’m not the guy I’m perceived to be.”
As a player, Lewan said he felt he had to walk a line at time where he made it clear he would protect his quarterback. He admits to overstepping it at times during his college career.
“Yeah, I’m going to do some things here and there,” Lewan said. “Obviously you never want to put the team in a position to lose or hurt us in any way but if I have to be that guy that steps in when a quarterback is getting hit and maybe tossed around a little more than he should, then I am definitely willing to be that guy.”
One of Lewan’s new teammates is an old Michigan teammate. Defensive lineman Mike Martin was drafted by the Titans out of Michigan in the third round in 2012.
“He’s a Grade A guy and you don’t have to worry about anything with him off the field, I can say that for sure,” Martin said. “I saw him grow and I know for sure firsthand.”
I also spoke to two NFL GMs about the Titans' selection of Lewan.
One said the he liked the tackle and the red flags were "not major."
Said the other: "That guy has so much value at that spot it was a no-brainer"