Andy Levitre finds home with Falcons after trade from Titans

Guard Andy Levitre has fit in well within Kyle Shanahan's zone blocking scheme. Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports

Sunday won't mark Andy Levitre's first trip back to the city where he spent the previous two seasons playing for the Tennessee Titans.

Sure, the Atlanta Falcons left guard is set to face his former teammates and the team that traded him away in the preseason in exchange for a 2016 sixth-round pick and conditional 2017 pick. However, Levitre was in Nashville just over the weekend.

"I own a house back there," Levitre said with a smile.

Now, he's found a home with the Falcons.

The 29-year-old veteran, who faced his share of criticism after not performing up to the six-year, $46.8 million free-agent deal he signed with the Titans in 2013 -- a deal that included $13 million guaranteed -- has brought some stability to the Falcons' much-improved offensive line. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's zone blocking scheme caters to Levitre's strengths as an athletic technician.

"He's been a great addition," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said of Levitre. "There's a number of things for him ... man can he finish. And that's one of things that you love about his game: that he just brings it every time.

"Is there certain things in this system that he's still working through on the backside of things? For sure there is. But the one thing that you know that you're going to get from him is finish. He's down the field blocking. He's finishing in the run game. It's one of the parts of his game that I respect the most."

A change in atmosphere was much-needed for Levitre, whose deal was restructured with the Falcons. One could tell he was a little annoyed with the negative perception that followed him out of Tennessee.

"I guess if you want to say, I want to prove a point," Levitre said of his return to Nissan Stadium. "I obviously want to go in there and, I guess, show them that they made a bad decision. But going against those guys in practice every day, I know what that defense is going to bring to the game. You know, it's definitely going to be a challenge for us."

Levitre, who has started all 102 games in his career with Buffalo, Tennessee and now Atlanta, never really found his footing with the Titans. At 6-foot-2 and 302 pounds, he was signed as a free agent to be the move guard with Tennessee set on adding '13 first-round draft pick Chance Warmack as the power guard on the right side. Then-Titans coach Mike Munchak wanted a more power game, with Levitre being the guy capable of working into the second level against the linebackers.

Tennessee knew from the beginning there was a chance Levitre could struggle against power, but his hand placement and footwork would compensate. Another hindrance for Levitre was injuries; he dealt with both knee and hip issues but did not miss any games.

A source familiar with Levitre's time with the Titans said coach Ken Whisenhunt, who took over for Munchak in 2014, was never really a fan of Levitre from the start. It made Levitre expendable based on his high price tag. Before the trade to the Falcons, Levitre actually was demoted in favor of Byron Bell.

"It was a little frustrating when I was on the way out of there," Levitre said, "but I knew I could still play in this league. It was just about getting the right opportunity to show that. And I feel like these guys have given me a great opportunity."

So far, Levitre has taken full advantage of the opportunity with the 5-1 Falcons.