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Kevin Byard Soaks in First NFL Game, Makes Big Play


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Kevin Byard wasn't nervous.

But as he stood on the sideline at Nissan Stadium during the National Anthem on Saturday night, the Titans rookie safety had a moment.

"I was able to sit there and take everything in,'' said Byard, a former MTSU star. "I stood there and thought, "Hey, I'm in the NFL. This is crazy.' Five years ago I wouldn't have believed it."

Once Saturday night's preseason game against the Chargers kicked off, Byard said "I was locked in and ready to go."

The moment wasn't too big for Byard, a third-round pick by the Titans in the NFL Draft.

Byard was on the field with the second team early in the team's 27-10 win over the Chargers.

With many of his former MTSU teammates at the game, Byard had an interception in his first game when he picked off Chargers quarterback Zach Mettenberger in the third quarter.

"It was a great experience,'' said Byard, who had 19 interceptions in college. "It just shows you what I did in college can translate to the NFL. But I know I have to keep working to get better.

"There was a lot of anticipation, and I was ready to get out there with my teammates. After the first couple of snaps it was like, 'Hey, we're out here playing football.' It was definitely fun and I was glad to be able to make some plays. There's definitely things I can improve on, but it was a good start."

Titans coach Mike Mularkey raved about Byard, who jumped up and raced toward the end zone after making the interception. He was ruled down after video replay, but Mularkey likes his instincts.

"You saw that from his tape,'' Mularkey said of Byard. "That was a great play. Really, not just the interception, which was a great break on the ball. But for him to get up and run like he did, for a rookie. … He put it in the official's decision whether he was down by contact or not. Just a really heads-up play for a young player like that."

The Tennessee Titans kick off the 2016 preseason against the San Diego Chargers at Nissan Stadium. (Donn Jones, AP)

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