NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Zach Brown can turn and run with just about anyone.
The inside linebacker’s speed is what got him selected in the second round by the Tennessee Titans in 2012.
In 2013 he got sideways with the previous coaching staff. Last year he had to win over Ken Whisenhunt and new coaches. He did so, then was lost four snaps into the season with a torn pectoral muscle.
Whisenhunt said Brown’s work last year earned him the benefit of the doubt going forward.
“From what Zach’s shown us, he’s a good football player and it hurt us when we lost him last year,” Whisenhunt said. “He’s made some plays in these OTAs that have been very impressive. He ran with [speedy running back] Dexter McCluster on a pass [Tuesday] and made a nice play. You appreciate the speed for a guy that size, and he’s done a good job of his inside run fits.”
Brown is expected to be a starting inside linebacker next to Avery Williamson. And while pass coverage is a strength, with those inside run fits he’ll need to be part of fixing a defense that allowed 137.2 rushing yards a game.
Brown was 235 pounds as a rookie and says that’s part of why there always seem to be questions about his run-stopping capabilities.
“Everybody’s always saying that I can’t stop the run,” he said. “My rookie year and my second year, I think I was stopping the run very well.
"This year is going to be a lot different. I’m bigger; I know more. I know where to go, where to be, and I can hit stuff faster. It’s not I’m so little. Everybody thinks I’m little, but I’m really not.”
Brown weighs more than 240 pounds now, but believes the extra weight and all the time he’s spent in the weight room will help him.
I never thought of him as little. He’s thicker now, but has always been chiseled. But I do wonder how much of the run-defense solution equation he will be.
“It’s going to take the whole team, the whole defense,” he said. “It’s going to take all 11 of us to stop that ball. Somebody’s going to have to make a tackle. We have to make sure one of us does it.”
Run defense is No. 1, Brown said. The defense’s goal is to make the quarterback to pick up the snap and pass, allowing the pass-rushers to work.
“Every team that stops the run, they get more sacks,” he said. “We’ve got to force them into passing situations.”