'I want to dominate': Tennessee Titans CB Caleb Farley ready to return after torn ACL

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee Titans cornerback Caleb Farley has overcome plenty of adversity during his path to the NFL. The latest setback came in Farley's first start as a pro when he tore the ACL in his left knee in Week 6 against the Buffalo Bills.

Farley has since attacked the rehab process with the goal of making an impact in 2022.

"I am a competitor," Farley said after last week's OTAs. "I want to win, and I want to dominate. That's my mentality."

All of the setbacks Farley has been through helped prepare him for yet another obstacle. Farley has dealt with various injuries dating back to his freshman year at Virginia Tech when he tore his right ACL, causing him to miss all of the 2017 season. He returned in 2018 after switching from wide receiver to cornerback.

A standout season in 2019 was cut short when he suffered a herniated L5 disc and bulged S1 joint while doing a deadlift exercise. The injury caused him to miss the final two games of the season.

The COVID-19 pandemic influenced Farley to forgo the 2020 season, opting to instead focus on preparing for the 2021 NFL draft. Farley aggravated his back while training, which resulted in back surgery a month prior to the draft.

The injury hurt Farley's draft stock, but he never wavered from the belief that he'd be selected in the first round. Titans general manager Jon Robinson saw an opportunity to get a top-10 caliber prospect and pounced with the 22nd pick.

The common factor through all of the tough times that Farley experienced was his faith. That faith was forged by his mother, Robin, who died of breast cancer when he was in college.

"There's absolutely been times in my life where it's hard to see the light," Farley said. "Trials and tribulations come in many different forms. But I have a strong faith, and I have a good close circle that I lean on and that helps me get through a lot."

Farley continued to stay involved with meetings last year to stay mentally sharp even though he wasn't able to take the field. The extra time helped Farley get off to a fast start when the Titans first reported back to the facility for OTAs.

"He is light years ahead of where he ended," coach Mike Vrabel said. "Not just rehab but from a mental perspective, being in those meetings and having them answer questions."

Titans defensive backs coach Anthony Midget commended Farley for being engaged and at the building every day working to get better. Farley hasn't been a stranger to the weight room, either.

"He has gained some size," Robinson said. "He is continuing to learn and work on how to be a pro and make that transition to try and help our football team. He is dedicated, and he is on the right track."

The Titans generally don't make public timetable projections for their players. Farley is not 100% back to his pre-injury form, but he's "taking it day by day and enjoying the process."

For now, Farley is wearing a yellow jersey in practice to signify that he's a rehabbing player. He also has a brace on his left knee for support.

The release of cornerback Jackrabbit Jenkins in March created a golden opportunity for Farley to nail down a starting cornerback spot opposite Kristian Fulton, who is entering his third year.

Farley doesn't think about the back injury that caused him to drop in the draft last year and has full confidence in his ability to plant and cut on the knee that he injured last October.

"I am extremely confident," Farley said, "and I am mentally better than I've ever been."