NASHVILLE – Forgive Malcolm Butler if he's a little extra psyched for the start of Titans camp.
Just understand he waited a little longer for this.
"I'm pretty sure all my teammates can tell just by when we went to walkthrough," Butler said with a smile on Friday. "I'm probably going a little fast, but I missed out on a whole half a season (last year) and I had to sit there and watch my team win. I'm all about winning, but I want to help win, too. I'm just excited to be back."
Butler broke his wrist in the team's November 3 game at Carolina in Week 9 and didn't play the rest of the year. He was placed on Injured Reserve on November 5 and spent the rest of the season rehabbing the injury -- and watching his teammates.
Butler traveled with the team for playoff contests, and the team's eventual trip to the AFC Championship Game in Kansas City, after wins at New England and Baltimore, inspired him even more.
And his time away made him appreciate the game even more.
"I used to be at practice like, 'Man, I'm ready for practice to be over with. It's hot out here. I'm sweating,' just the little things," Butler said. "But when I got hurt, I missed those little things. I miss not being perfect. I miss being out there making plays. So, you don't want to take anything for granted. You want to cherish each and everything. Go hard each and every play because you never know when it's your last play. It taught me a lot of things, be grateful for the good and bad. Embrace the good in the bad."
Butler ended up playing in nine games in 2019, and he finished the season with 30 tackles, two interceptions and 10 passes defensed. It followed a year when he posted 56 stops and three interceptions in 2018, along with 13 passes defensed.
During an offseason when players were banned from Saint Thomas Sports Park because of the coronavirus, Butler went old school with workouts.
He spent most of his offseason in Nashville, working out in his garage and getting treatments so his body would be ready for the season.
"Yes, sir," Butler said. "Bread and butter, hard work, small gym, something like Rocky. I go to the field or the sand, work on my footwork, but as long as I stay in shape and just focus on my technique. I was ready. I knew that once we got back, the coaches are going to work us hard so their work plus my work will lead to good quality."
Butler, who spent his first four NFL seasons with the Patriots, is ready to do his part in 2020.
Now in his 7th season, that includes showing some of the team's younger players the way.
"First of all, I have to come in and do my job and be a leader," Butler said. "You got to do hard work before you can be a leader and try to lead someone else. I just tell Kris (Kristian Fulton) come in, be hungry. He's got to want it. It doesn't matter if you got drafted or not. I was on a football team with a guy drafted and I came in undrafted. They let him go and they kept me. I just tell him it all starts over when we get to the NFL. We're just working together as a group and try and get better each and every day.
"Whatever they ask me to do, I'm here to do it. Outside, inside, safety, whatever it takes to help the team win, I'm here to do it. Wherever they plug me in, I'm ready to work."
Titans players take the field for training camp on Friday at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Donald Page)