Former University of Kentucky star Wesley Woodyard started this season in an unfamiliar spot — a role as a reserve linebacker for the Tennessee Titans.
But the eighth-year pro, who played his first six seasons with the Denver Broncos, was undeterred.
“An old veteran, Mario Haggan, once told me this when I was in Denver: Don’t worry about things you can’t control, just worry about things you can control,’’ Woodyard said in report on the Titans’ website. “That means when you get your chance, you shine and you don’t look back. … This offseason, I knew I wasn’t going to get a chance to start with different factors ... But I had to come out here and work hard. My teammates expect me to come out here and work hard and not pout. I am not a pouter and I believe in competition.”
Woodyard has managed to play his way back into the starting lineup, and his 78 tackles (according to the team’s statistics) trail only fellow former UK standout Avery Williamson’s 88 for the team lead. Woodyard is also second on the team with five quarterback sacks.
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“He is a good person, and a great teammate,’’ Williamson said of Woodyard. “Wesley is a guy who goes out there and competes every day.”
Titans interim coach Mike Mularkey praised Woodyard for his approach.
“I can’t say enough about him and what he does for our team,” Mularkey told TitansOnline.com. “I know he lost his role there early in the season. He could have easily gone into a funk and not once has he ever wavered. … He’s a good guy for our young players to follow and watch if you want to be good, successful.”
In the Titans’ report, Woodyard said he approached this season no differently than previous seasons in the NFL.
“I always go out there and do my best, and let everything play out, whether I am running with the 1s the 2s, the 3s or the 4s,’’ Woodyard said. “Every year, I take it as I am trying to beat somebody out. It is a long year, and I’m a competitor. I came in undrafted, so I am always trying to beat somebody out and outwork them.”
The 29-year-old Woodyard refereed to himself as the team’s “hype man” on the playing field. He takes his role as a leader seriously.
“When you walk away from this game you want to see how you changed things for the positive, and make sure you don’t leave anything negative out there that young guys can pick up on,’’ Woodyard said. “When they see an older vet do something negative, they think they can do it, too. So you want to lead by example and do great things.”
▪ For more Tennessee Titans coverage, check out TitansOnline.com.