NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Taylor Lewan spoke fondly and in defense of a friend and teammate the Monday after the NFL draft.
In so doing, he emphasized he had no issue with the Tennessee Titans' No. 2 pick in the draft, Marcus Mariota. Nevertheless, Lewan's defense of Zach Mettenberger has been blown up to the point some fans have suggested it's the start of a locker room divide.
Lewan was around Friday after a rookie minicamp practice and jumped on a question that allowed him to disavow that notion.
"If people want to put stuff out there like that, that's fine," Lewan said. "In this locker room, I have nothing against Marcus at all. I've known Zach for longer, that's the only thing.
Then, pointing to offensive lineman Gabe Ikard in a locker next to his, Lewan said: "I've know Gabe longer than the center we just drafted (Andy Gallik). Gabe's my friend. It's not necessarily rooting for someone. I am rooting for the best players to play on this team. If there is a better left tackle on this team than me, then I expect him to play and I expect us to win.
"I don't care about anything but winning games. So when it comes to the business perspective of it, then I don't care who the quarterback is."
If Mettenberger outplays Mariota in training camp and the preseason, sure, some players could wonder about the team going with the rookie. But the reality is the No. 2 pick in the draft is going to get every chance and is going to get the patience of the franchise.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt confirmed again that Mariota will be getting the lion's share of reps with the first team.
If Mariota shows growth while he gets them, then the potential for debate should ease.
"He's a really good guy," Lewan said of Mariota. "Everyone wants to talk about him being like a hermit or quiet or whatever. He might be a little more soft spoken than other guys. I mean maybe compared to me, but he held a conversation just fine. He's a great guy. I have nothing bad to say about him right now and hopefully he's a damn good football player.
Mariota asked to get into a card game this week.
"I don't know how much is says about him as a quarterback, or whatever," Lewan cracked. "It says he's willing to play cards, and that's pretty exciting I guess."