Skip to main content

Perseverance Pays Off: Titans DB Shyheim Carter Shed Tears of Joy After Making His Long-Awaited NFL Debut


NASHVILLE – Shyheim Carter admits his emotions got the best of him on Sunday.

But who could blame him?

After four teams, after three seasons on and off practice squads, and after being waived eight times in his career, the Titans defensive back made his NFL debut on Sunday at Nissan Stadium against the Bengals.

Carter took a moment to let it soak in.

"A few tears were shed," Carter said with a smile. "It was so surreal. … Honestly, just watching God work, seeing Him unfold everything. It was able to bring me tears of joy and put a big smile on my face."

Carter played 11 snaps at safety against the Bengals, and 11 more on special teams, where he was credited with a tackle.

Carter is currently a member of the team's practice squad, but he was a gameday elevation for the Cincinnati game.

Carter initially joined the NFL in 2020 as an undrafted free agent with the New York Jets. He's spent time on practice squads with the Jets, Falcons, Texans and Titans over the past four seasons. He's been with the Titans since the end of the 2021 season, but he's been on and off the practice squad during that stretch.

Carter never gave up, which is why his coaches and teammates were so happy for him on Sunday.

"All the credit goes to him, the time and perseverance," Titans safeties coach Scott Booker said of Carter. "He's a guy who is always very positive in meetings, a professional as far as coming and working and learning multiple positions. Myself, his teammates, everybody was really happy to see him out there. It was a very big deal for him, personally, to be out there, and it was great to see as his coach."

Titans cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting said he talked to Carter about his accomplishment before the game. Carter was officially elevated on Saturday, and he reverted to the practice squad after the game.

"I didn't realize the journey he went through," Murphy-Bunting said. "He showed me all the teams (he's been with). … I felt excited for him, because I know how hard he works day in and day out. … He shows up to work like he's starting every day. It's definitely a great feeling, a grateful feeling."

Carter was a star in both high school and college.

At Kentwood (La.) High School, where he played both quarterback and cornerback, he was named class 1A Offensive MVP by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association and the Louisiana Football Coaches Association in 2014 and 2015. As a senior, recorded 57 tackles and five interceptions, while adding 2,443 passing yards, 1,648 rushing yards and 30 total touchdowns on offense.

In four seasons at the University of Alabama, Carter appeared in 50 games with 23 starts and tallied 101 tackles, six tackles for loss, three interceptions with two returned for touchdowns, 21 passes defensed and two forced fumbles.

Prior to being signed by the Texans in 2021, after previous practice squad stints with the Jets and Falcons, Carter spent the spring working as a graduate assistant at Alabama under his former head coach, Nick Saban.

"I think Shyheim Carter would fit in probably one of the top two or three players on the team from a knowledge standpoint," Saban said prior to Carter's last season at Alabama. "He can answer every question in a meeting about every position...I think that's what creates a lot of diversity for him as a player, to be able to play multiple positions because he's very smart and it means something to him."

Carter has proven that with the Titans.

After getting his first taste of regular season action on Sunday – before then his game action came in the preseason – Carter is as hungry as ever.

His plan: Keep working.

"I come in (every day) not knowing if I'm going to be elevated, if I'm going to be on the practice squad, or if I'm going to be released," Carter said. "I come in with the mindset that I'm going to be evaluated every day, in everything I do. I just keep my head down and work.

"It was a great experience (on Sunday), a great opportunity. For it to be my NFL debut, it was fun. … I just want to do whatever I can to create a role, and keep going."

Related Content

Fan Zone

Titans + Nissan Stadium App presented by Verizon

Titans + Nissan Stadium App presented by Verizon

Stay up to date with team and stadium news, concert and event announcements, stream live Titans games and more!

Tennessee Titans Marketplace

Tennessee Titans Marketplace

A one-stop shop for Titans memorabilia, autographed items and more!

Tennessee Titans Email Newsletter

Tennessee Titans Email Newsletter

Get Titans news sent straight to your inbox.