Kearse thinks Year 2 of return will be better

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

A year ago, when the Titans signed Jevon Kearse to bring the defensive end back to Nashville, his full participation in the offseason program was a big deal.

This time around, they say a lighter offseason during which he recovered from some knee surgery is going to do the trick.

Kearse wasn’t wildly productive last season, but he was part of a strong defensive line and had 49 tackles, 3.5 sacks 19 pressures, seven tackles for a loss and 16 starts at left defensive end.

This time around, at least through the preseason, he has looked better.

“I came a long way from last training camp,” he said, before turning to a topic that is sure still to raise the rancor of Eagles fans unhappy with how he played after signing a big contract in Philadelphia in 2004. “Last training camp I still had a lot of that stuff in my system from that two-gapping defense I played in Philly. It seems like I finally got it out of my system.”

And what about all the talk of the offseason conditioning last year and the lighter pace this offseason?

“I had it both ways and I’d say this year I feel a lot better because I didn’t beat myself down going overboard with all the offseason stuff,” he said. “I did enough stuff to get in shape and get ready for the season and not set myself back with the knee I had arthroscopically repaired a couple months back.”

I suspect Kearse does feel more comfortable in his second year back and that he also knows that the Titans are so deep at end beyond him and Kyle Vanden Bosch -- with Dave Ball, Jacob Ford and William Hayes -- that they wouldn’t have hesitated to whittle away his opportunity if he wasn’t most worthy of it.

Jeff Fisher says he sees a different, and better, player.

“Yeah, I believe that’s been the case throughout camp," Fisher said. "We held him out with just some soreness, but he’s in good shape. He’s done some things this camp that we didn’t see from him last year and that probably has to do with it. It took a little bit more time to get familiar with our system.”