NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Titans linebacker Nate Palmer received a nice compliment from defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau on Tuesday, and when relayed the news, it almost made him want to put his hands over his ears.
Don't get Palmer wrong -- he was flattered.
"But I am one of those players where I try and keep it out of sight, out of mind," Palmer said of positive reviews. "When you start getting praise, some people start to get a sense of complacency and I don't want to reach that for myself. It is always nice to hear it, but you have to keep working. I just have to put my head down and keep working."
Palmer, heading into his fifth NFL season, earned the props.
He's roughly 20 pounds lighter, and if he looks a lot faster, it's because he is.
"I am getting from Point A to Point B a lot faster, and even point C down the field,'' said Palmer, who's listed at 248 pounds on the roster but said he's really 233. "I have noticed that a lot."
The legendary LeBeau has noticed as well.
"Nate Palmer is moving tremendously, athletically,'' LeBeau said. "It has made him quicker. He has always been very athletic, but he has looked particularly athletic to me. He is a very valuable guy, him and Justin (Staples) both because they have played so many positions. They know the defense and they are responsible veterans. We value both of those players, Nate being one of them."
Palmer, who played in 24 games with the Packers from 2013-15, was claimed off waivers by the Titans in April, 2016. He played primarily on special teams last season for the Titans, and led the team with 12 stops. He also played some in the defense.
When Palmer became a free agent this offseason, he did some soul-searching. He was confident about landing a job because of his body of work in he NFL, but he wanted to put himself in a better position to be successful. He changed his diet, quit drinking alcohol, and trained especially hard.
"My mindset going into this offseason was just getting back to what makes me, me,'' said Palmer, who played collegiately at Illinois State. "I guess in a sense in college my game was predicated on speed and not size. So I focused on slimming my body down and just trying to get in the best shape of my life."
The Titans re-signed Palmer in March, which pleased him.
"It made me feel good to be wanted," he said.
Since, he's continued to pick the brain of the veterans around him, from coaches to veterans, while trying to earn more opportunities. He's worked on special teams this offseason, in addition to stints at inside and outside linebacker.
"They always say, especially for the back-up guys, the more you can do, it helps you out. So I just try and learn and soak up as much as I can,'' Palmer said.
"I just want to help the team any way I can, whether it be running down on kickoff coverage covering kicks or filling in on defense. Whatever it is, I am game for it. I just want to play football."
Titans players take the field for Day 8 of the team's 2017 OTAs at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn)