NASHVILLE – Zach Cunningham is back in Nashville, and back with coach Mike Vrabel.
And, now with the Titans, the playmaking linebacker finds himself in a race for a playoff spot.
Cunningham sounds like he's happy about it.
"(Being) in Nashville four years at Vandy, being able to come back to the city and get around some more guys I know, some coaches that I know, that is something I was really excited for," Cunningham said on Friday. "It's something I was really glad for the opportunity that I was given to do that.
"(I want) to fit in the defense wherever I can. I always have trust in my abilities to go make plays, and that's what I plan to do here. I am focusing on being a Titan, and what I can do for the team."
Cunningham, claimed off waivers from the Texans last week, wrapped up his first week of practice with the team on Friday.
Vrabel, who served as Cunningham's defensive coordinator in Houston, said Cunningham will make his Titans debut on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"I felt like his attitude, his demeanor in meetings, on the practice field communicating (was good)," Vrabel said of Cunningham. "Hopefully he can help is in some capacity on Sunday. … He'll play in the game, and probably help us on special teams and some areas situationally on defense. … I anticipate him playing."
Vrabel gave Cunningham some encouraging words when they were reunited earlier this week.
"Basically, he was saying, he was glad to have me here, and he's excited for me to get out there. He feels like I will be able to do a lot for the defense, and I feel the same way," Cunningham said. "I am excited as well to be here, be back with Vrabes."
Cunningham (6-3, 238), an All-SEC performer in 2015 and 2016 at Vanderbilt, joined the Titans after four-plus seasons in Houston, playing 72 games (66 starts). During his time with the Texans, he tallied 570 tackles, 26 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, five forced fumbles, thee fumble recoveries and one interception. His 164 tackles ranked as the second-highest total in the NFL in 2020, and a career high.
Cunningham recorded 67 total tackles, one forced fumble and three pass deflections in 10 games this season for Houston before being waived.
"I was a little surprised for sure," Cunningham said of joining the Titans. "I didn't think that was something that would be allowed to happen, but here I am."
A second-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Cunningham has eclipsed the 100 total tackle mark in each of the past three seasons, including 164 tackles in 2020.
Now he's ready to do his part with the Titans, back in a familiar city
"It has been kind of a whirlwind, everything happened so quick," Cunningham said. "So, for me, it's just been getting in the playbook, getting to know the guys.
"(A lot of my buddies have been saying) welcome back to Nashville, welcome back to the city."