Craig Stevens Wants to Make Contact, Not Friends on Field

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Craig Stevens likes to get the last shove, not the last word.

On the football field, that's not necessarily the best way to make lot of friends.

"I'm probably annoying to guys,'' the Titans tight end said with a smile. "A lot of those guys are talking smack to me. I don't talk, I keep my mouth shut and play. I think that probably frustrates guys, but I just don't get into that.

"Really, I just always play snap to the whistle and just try to play with relentless effort, and not stop, not give up. I think coach (Mike) Mularkey likes that. Any coach wants guys to give it full effort and that's what I try to do. I've always done that I guess."

The Titans clearly like it. On Thursday, the Titans agreed to terms with Stevens on a new contract.

A third round draft pick by the Titans in 2008, Stevens has spent all eight of his NFL seasons with the Titans. He's considered one of the NFL's best blocking tight ends.

"I am really happy about it. I'm stoked,'' Stevens said. "This is home. I didn't want to go anywhere else. I am very fortunate they wanted me back.

"And I feel good. I just try and play as hard as I can, and do the best I can. And when I can't play as hard as I can, I'll be done. But I am as strong as I've ever been, I have been working hard, and I feel good. I am really excited about this year."

Stevens has played in 109 career games. He played in all 16 games in 2015, with 11 starts, and recorded 12 catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns. Stevens has 60 receptions for 724 yards and six touchdowns in his career. He joins veteran tight ends Delanie Walker and Anthony Fasano on the roster.

In making the announcement Thursday night at an event for season ticket holders at the Music City Center, Titans general manager Jon Robinson described Stevens as a "roll your sleeves up" kind of guy.

"We were fortunate enough to re-sign one of our cornerstone pieces offensively,'' Robinson said of Stevens. "I was watching him again the other night against New Orleans and (defensive end) Cam Jordan is a pretty good player for New Orleans and (Craig) he pushed him around pretty good all game long. So we're glad to have him back."

Stevens, voted by his teammates as the recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award for his comeback from a leg injury in the 2014 season that limited him to five games, said he's ready to do his part.

He's a big fan of Mularkey, who served as his position coach before being promoted to interim head coach last season. The Titans removed the interim tag from Mularkey's job title last month.

"When I had my injury, I didn't know if I was going to be able to bounce back from that. Coach Mularkey really supported me, and believed in me,'' Stevens said. 'We were lucky to have him as our tight ends coach and now we're luckier to have him as our head coach.

"He knows how to get the best out of you, and push you. He just wants guys to play with full effort. He treats everyone really well. I really like the direction we are going in. Guys on the team like him and want to play hard for him, too."

Stevens is also a big fan of winning, and wants to get back to it.

The Titans haven't been to the playoffs since his rookie season in 2008. The past two seasons, the Titans have won just five games total.

"I talk about it all the time. That was a very exciting time, a lot of fun,'' Stevens said of the '08 season. The Titans went 13-3 in the regular season that year, but lost in the playoffs to Baltimore. "You put so much work into it, and the game is so much more fun when you are winning.

"I just want to get some wins. I don't know how many years I have left and I want to finish on top.''

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