NASHVILLE – Since he first joined the Titans back in 2015, running back David Fluellen has been popular with his coaches and teammates because of his work ethic and team-first mentality.
Titans head coach Mike Vrabel is among Fluellen's biggest fans.
"One, he cares about the team," Vrabel said of Fluellen. "He will do anything that anybody on this team asks him to do, whether it's to play any position – offensively or defensively. He does his best on special teams, he's a hard worker, he cares about his teammates, and he does a great job."
Well, there's now even more of Fluellen to like.
How much more?
"Probably about 16, 17 pounds," Fluellen said with a smile.
In the team's OTAs, Fluellen is noticeable bigger. The extra weight should allow him to show his versatility even more, whether it's lining up in the backfield on offense, or on special teams.
Fluellen has been used sparingly at running back during his career. Following the departure of tight end Luke Stocker, who lined up in the backfield as a fullback in 2018, Fluellen could be a candidate to fill that role this fall, in addition to his assignments in the past.
The additional weight should make him sturdier if needed in front of running backs Derrick Henry or Dion Lewis.
Fluellen said he worked out especially hard this offseason, in addition to "eating a lot."
"I try to eat something every 2 ½-3 hours," Fluellen said. "Not like bad food – some chicken, broccoli, rice, things like that. I just try to eat that as much as I can. … I think the extra weight helps me be able to do more things, wherever I'm needed, to give myself a chance to make the team."
The Titans re-signed Fluellen, who initially joined the Titans as an undrafted free agent out of Toledo in 2015, earlier this offseason.
Over the past two seasons, Fluellen has played in 23 games for the Titans after spending most of his first two years in Tennessee on the practice squad.
Fluellen's 2018 season was cut short because of an injury he suffered against the Patriots on November 11, and he ended the season on Injured Reserve. Fluellen has eight carries for 37 yards in his career, including four carries for 16 yards in 2018. He had nine special teams stops in 2017, and two in 2018 before being injured.
After talking to coaches about adding weight earlier this offseason, Fluellen said "I was willing to do whatever." So he went to work in the weight room, and at the dinner table.
Fluellen said the OTAs have been a learning experience for him as he works at different positions, "but it's been a good fit for both of us."
"The more you can do, the better," Fluellen said. "Because if you are versatile, and you can do things other guys can't, you are going to be used more."
After a recent OTA, Fluellen he's still getting used to playing with the extra weight, but he's adjusting. Fluellen was listed at 5-foot-11, 224 pounds on last year's roster, but he's much heavier than that now.
"It took some getting used to, and that is what these OTAs are for, to see how guys move at certain weights and that's how we set up for the season," Fluellen said. "As for right now I am getting used to it – some days it's good, some days I have to pick it up. And it's all about conditioning, too – conditioning with the weight you've got."
Meanwhile, Fluellen's teammates are getting used to seeing a bigger "Flu" around as well.
"They definitely talk about it," Fluellen said with a smile. "They've asked me what I've been doing (to get bigger), or why I was getting bigger, those sort of things. But they know I am trying to help the team any way possible.
"They are all encouraging me, especially the offensive line. Those guys are big eaters, so they are making sure my weight is right so I can be ready to go."
The Titans take the field for Tuesday's organized team activities (OTA) at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Donald Page, AP)