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Antwon Blake Ready to Play with an Edge for Titans


NASHVILLE, Tenn. —One of Antwon Blake's first memories of the Titans involved running back Eddie George.

"I was playing offense when I was younger and you try and emulate the people who are superstars at the time,'' Blake said. "Eddie George was definitely one of the superstars in the league when I was growing up. His Titans jersey was one of the first I ever had as a kid."

As Blake grew older, another former Titan caught his attention – cornerback Cortland Finnegan.

"I loved the way he conducted himself on the field,'' Blake said of Finnegan, who played from 2006-2011 in Nashville. "He wasn't afraid to get out there and mix it up."

Blake, a four-year NFL veteran who played the past three seasons with the Steelers, decided to join the Titans because of what's taking place now, however. The feisty cornerback said on Friday morning he's ready to do his part to help the team any way he can.

His familiarity with coach Mike Mularkey and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau played a role in his decision.

"I feel like the direction this team is going in, there's going to be great things in the future and I definitely want to be a part of that. The moves being made around here, they're from an organization that wants to win and do big things," Blake said.

"Basically, I am going to contribute on special teams and contribute on defense. As far as my role or what it will be, I am willing to do whatever the team needs me to do in order to be successful. It is all about the team. I am not really concerned about myself or egos or anything like that, I just want to come in and help the team as much as I can."

A 5-foot-9, 198-pounder, Blake started 16 games for the Steelers in 2015. He recorded a career-high 76 tackles, one sack and two interceptions during the regular season, including one he returned 70 yards for a touchdown. Blake also recorded an interception, returning it 35 yards, in the team's playoff win over the Bengals. looks at the NFL career of former Steelers CB Antwon Blake. (AP Photos)

Blake, 25, entered the NFL in 2012 as an undrafted free agent with the Jaguars out of Texas El-Paso. He's played in 62 games in his first four NFL seasons.

When free agency began last week, Blake received plenty of interest. He made visits to the Patriots and Lions, in addition to his visit to Tennessee.

"It definitely feels good to be wanted,'' Blake said. "It shows that you did something right throughout your career, so people want to give you a shot."

Blake said he picked the Titans for a number of reasons. His familiarity with LeBeau from his days in Pittsburgh helped, but he also played under Mularkey while with the Jaguars in 2012.

"I feel like he was a great coach, a players' coach,'' Blake said of Mularkey. "He's honest with you. It was my rookie year when I was with him in Jacksonville, and rookie years can be tough. He made it a great experience for me. I have nothing but great things to say about coach Mularkey and I look forward to being up under him again."

Earlier in free agency, the Titans also added a pair of former Steelers in cornerback Brice McCain and linebacker Sean Spence. Both have experience under LeBeau, who joined the Titans in 2015 after a long run in Pittsburgh. McCain played under LeBeau in 2014, and with the Dolphins in 2015.

"He definitely made a big impact on me,'' Blake said of LeBeau. "Talking with him during my visit, it just reminded me of how much I missed him coaching me and how much I feel he could help my career and my development as a player."

Blake now wants to make an impact with the Titans.

Cornerback Antwon Blake signs his contract at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Jeff Harding)

General Manager Jon Robinson said Blake's speed – he was clocked at a 4.24 in the 40 (laser time) at his Pro Day at Texas El-Paso – made him even more intriguing.

Blake is expected to compete at outside cornerback in the defense, and he'll also play on special teams. He's been a gunner on punt coverage, and he was a primary contributor on kick coverage in Pittsburgh.

"He's fast and physical, that's really what stood out about him as we watched him,'' Robinson said of Blake. "He is certainly not afraid to throw (his body) in there. He'll take a shot. He is not the tallest guy or the widest guy, but he packs a punch when he throws his body in there. He is strapped together pretty good, and he's not afraid to uncoil and pop."

In addition to Mularkey and LeBeau, Blake said he's also familiar with new Titans secondary coach Deshea Townsend, who played under LeBeau with the Steelers. He knows several players on the team in addition to McCain and Spence.

Blake, who received just one scholarship offer out of high school (UTEP) and was passed over in the 2012 NFL draft, said he wants to reward the Titans for signing him.

He plans to do it by playing with an edge. Along with other members of the Pittsburgh secondary, Blake faced criticism at times in Pittsburgh while playing on a defense that finished 30th in the NFL in passing defense.

"(Finnegan) is a guy who's built the same way as me stature-wise, and he's obviously made a lot of plays in this league. I feel like when you are a smaller player you have to have a lot of extra attributes in order to make it out here and I feel like my physicality and my speed are a big part of my game,'' Blake said.

"Proving people wrong, that is not really what I am in to. It is more about going out there and believing in myself and doing things for my family, and showing my family what I can do. It is not about the doubters, it is about making my family happy, making myself happy and proving things to myself and my family, the coaches who believe in me and my teammates.

"I feel like this is a great place to be and I'm ready to do my part."


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