NASHVILLE – Kamalei Correa has a tendency to beat himself up.
The Titans outside linebacker ended the 2019 season with momentum, recording sacks in six of the team's last eight games. But when he watched himself on film after the season, he didn't necessarily like what he saw.
"I wasn't too impressed with myself," Correa said.
His fiancé has told him he needs to ease up on the self-criticism, but he can't help it.
Correa is hoping that boxing – part his new training routine this offseason -- will allow him to beat up others on the football field this fall.
"There's a saying in the NFL, and it's that you're only as good as your last game," Correa said. "What I did last year, it doesn't matter now. We haven't played a game in a while.
"I am always going to be my toughest critic. I was trained to always keep pushing, always keep striving, always try to be better because the moment you settle is the moment you get beat. So, I'm always thinking: How can I do better? How can I keep improving? It is a fresh start now, and a new season is coming up. This is year five for me, and I am going to do everything I can to be better so I can help the team."
Correa, who re-signed with the team this offseason, has incorporated boxing into his workout regimen with the hopes it will make him an even better player.
Acquired in a trade with the Ravens prior to the 2018 season, Correa had the best season of his career in 2019 when he recorded 37 tackles, five sacks and seven quarterback pressures. Correa added sacks of Baltimore's Lamar Jackson and Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes in the playoffs.
While training in San Diego this offseason, Correa said he found a boxing coach, Hakan Yildiz, and he's been working with him three to four times a week in addition to other training.
It came after he consulted with outside linebackers coach Shane Bowen on ways he could improve.
"(Boxing) is helping me with my cardio and my hands and footwork," Correa said. "(Yildiz) is also a strength coach that does functional movement training along with boxing. A lot of the things I needed to improve on were my hands and feet working together, and kind of turning my body and moving my body in a certain way.
"I am really trying to focus on my pass rush this year. I felt like there was a lot of improvement I could make in that area. Boxing helps you move your feet and body and hands in a way for speed and reaction, which is just like when you're coming off the edge as an edge rusher, you have to read and react to get past an offensive linemen. So, I think that is helping me out in a huge way."
The Titans are counting on Correa picking up where he left off last season.
He'll have some familiar faces, and some new ones, around him as well.
Harold Landry, who led the Titans in sacks last year with nine, returns, along with outside linebackers Reggie Gilbert and Derick Roberson. D'Andre Walker, a fifth-round draft pick from 2019 who spent the season on Injured Reserve, will also be in the mix, hoping to earn a roster spot and snaps. The same goes for outside linebackers Josh Smith and Jordan Williams.
The team's biggest offseason acquisition – former Falcons edge rusher Vic Beasley Jr. – is also expected to be a difference maker this fall. A first-round pick (8th overall) of the Falcons in the 2015 NFL Draft, Beasley has 37.5 career sacks. He joins the Titans after spending the past five seasons in Atlanta.
Correa is happy about the players around him at outside linebacker, and the possibilities.
"I think we have a solid group," he said. "It's a young group and I think we have a lot of juice in the room. I think we have a lot of movement and ability to kind of scheme some things up on the edges where they don't really know who is doing what out there because we all do the same thing and we are all very similar with our game.
"I am really excited for these guys. In these Zoom meetings, we talk football, but I can tell these guys are training and they are working their tails off. I am looking forward to getting after it with these guys."
After heading into free agency himself, Correa is glad to be back with the Titans.
He plans to pack even more of a punch in 2020.
"I want to give a big shout-out to Mike Vrabel and Jon Robinson for believing in me," he said. "I kept my faith in God, and I kept my prayers up. I just kept believing in Him and I trusted Him in knowing this is where I needed to be at this moment. I am happy to be back with the boys, and I'm ready to make this run again."
A look back at outside linebacker Kamalei Correa's 2019 season. (Photos: Donald Page)