NASHVILLE – Jayon Brown has made a name for himself in his first two seasons with the Titans, earning snaps and recognition along the way.
It's safe to say Brown is exceeding expectations for his work at linebacker, even if the first reaction he gets from most fans is about his size.
"When they do recognize me, the first thing I get is: 'I thought you were bigger'," Brown said with a smile while on the Titans Caravan this week. "They'll say: You're kind of a slim guy.' I'll be like, 'Yeah, I'm not the biggest. But I get the job done, though.' Hey, I just laugh. I've been hearing that my whole life. It's all good."
Brown, who's 6-foot, 226 pounds, has proven to be more than big enough in a league where small and speedy linebackers are becoming more and more common. In the NFL Draft, the Titans selected former West Virginia linebacker David Long, who's 5-11, 227 pounds.
When Titans coach Mike Vrabel was asked about Long's size, he brought up Brown, which is a good thing.
"The size of linebackers has really diminished over the past 10 years," Vrabel said. "Most recently it is what is playing in college football. The more that offenses become spread out, the more that college defenses recruit athletic, quick, smaller (linebackers). We are very comfortable with where we are with Jayon Brown and his development as a linebacker. I would say that David would probably fit similar to Jayon's size. As long as you give the guy, the player, enough tools in his tool box to play with his skillset and then try to develop some other things around it, I think that is always something that we are trying to do."
Brown has more than held his own with the Titans. In 2018, he was second on the team with 107 tackles, and he also racked up six sacks and 18 quarterback pressures.
He was one of the team's most consistent players.
In the team's finale against the Colts, Brown was a one-man wrecking crew, returning an interception for a touchdown before forcing another fumble – and recovering it – a little later.
Brown played 979 snaps in 2018, including 850 on defense (81.3 %), while also playing 129 more on special teams. He earned nearly a half-million additional dollars in addition to his regular salary as part of the NFL's performance-based pay program, which rewards players based on playing time and salary levels.
Brown didn't hate getting the bump in pay. He was also happy about his jump in play, although he's not too interested in talk about exceeding expectations already.
Heck, he's just two years into his career.
"I am just getting started," Brown said. "It has only been two years of film, so to be back in Nashville again and be able to go into my third year, some guys haven't made it this far. It is a blessing and I just want to keep improving my game and keep on contributing and help us win. But to be able to be on the field and contribute as much as I do as a late-round guy, it's nice I guess."
Ryan Succop, Brett Kern, Jayon Brown, Rashaan Evans and Sharif Finch headlined Day 3 of the 2019 Academy Sports + Outdoors Titans Caravan in Sparta and Mt. Juliet, Tenn. (Photos: Susanna Nickel)
A fifth-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft out of UCLA, Brown spent the early part of the offseason in California training with NFL players like Kenny Clark, Caleb Benenoch, Malik Jackson, Malcolm Smith, David Bakhtiari, and Lance Kendricks, in addition to Titans teammate Matt Dickerson, his former teammate at UCLA.
One of his missions is to improve his stamina, so he'll be able to do even more.
"Just being able to just go hard and full speed every play when I am on the field," Brown said. "It just gives me the ability to make more plays and keep longer focus."
More than anything, Brown just wants to keep getting better.
He's already looking forward to Year 3.
"I just want to keep getting better and improving on my skills and each and every weekend I want to help the defense," he said. "I just want to keep doing me. Keep on doing what I do in this defense, and keep making plays and being a great teammate to my guys in the locker room.
"And hopefully we can keep winning games and this year get back in the playoffs."
TitansOnline.com looks back at linebacker Jayon Brown's 2018 season. (AP Photos)