NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Jeremiah Poutasi celebrated the first half of his 21stbirthday on Friday by putting on shoulder pads and fighting off 300-pound defensive linemen.
While chomping on a piece of beef jerky afterward, the Titans rookie offensive lineman was looking forward to a walk-through practice later in the day.
But heck, he wasn't complaining.
"I am blessed to be here now, on my birthday, doing something I love. I am grateful,'' Poutasi said with a smile. "Hopefully I don't mess up in the walk-through and that will be my birthday present."
A third-round draft pick by the Titans in the NFL Draft, Poutasi was just 20 when the team picked him. His teammates were surprised to hear his age when he arrived.
"I told him when he was 21 we would go out and celebrate,'' center Brian Schwenke said. "Then we found out he would turn 21 in camp, so we nixed the celebration. So he gets a camp practice, and that's it."
One thing Poutsai got for his birthday: extra reps.
With veterans Byron Bell (jaw) and Byron Stingily (concussion) both sidelined, Poutasi got the first-team work at right tackle. A 6-foot-5, 335-pounder, Poutasi is competing for a starting spot.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt said Poutasi's had his moments, and the increased workload should help his development.
"He needs reps; he is young,'' Whisenhunt said. "Just understanding the techniques (is important). You can watch the 1 on 1s and see how athletic he is, and the thing that you like about him is he has an anchor. So when guys try to bull (rush) him he can set it down.
"I see an athletic guy who has good hands and is a big guy."
As a three-year starter, Poutasi played in 36 games at Utah, with 35 starts. He played left tackle during his final two seasons after starting at right tackle as a true freshman.
Prior to the draft, Poutasi trained with 49ers tackle Joe Staley and Browns offensive lineman Joel Bitonio. His cousin is Chiefs guard Paul Fanaika. He's learning from the veterans in the NFL.
"When I came in here I tried to adjust myself to their level. I know I am a rookie, so right now I am listening to what they say and learning,'' Poutasi said.
"Every rep I can get mentally and physically will help me no matter what. I feel like I am progressing. I have a lot of work to do technique-wise, but I am progressing."
The Titans select Utah OT Jeremiah Poutasi in the third round (#66 overall) in the 2015 NFL Draft.