NASHVILLE, Tenn. —Rashad Johnson was part of a turnaround at the University of Alabama. When he arrived in the NFL, he enjoyed a climb to success with the Arizona Cardinals.
Now with the Titans, the veteran safety is hoping for similar results. He wants to help change the culture in Tennessee.
"I think that is an important part of my story,'' Johnson said on Wednesday from the Titans Caravan. "When I went to Alabama, we weren't very good and I was able to help turn that program around to where they are now. And when I went to Arizona we weren't very good, and by the time I left we were 13-3, in an NFC Championship Game and a game away from the Super Bowl.
"So I know what it takes to go in and turn a program around and get everybody on board. I am just going to go in and give my best every day. What they see is what they get (in me), a guy that loves the game, a guy that is passionate about it, and a guy who is passionate about making his brothers better and that is what it is all about. It is buying in for one another and the way you do that is by doing your job each and every day."
Johnson signed with the Titans earlier this offseason. He's played in 100 games over the past seven seasons with the Cardinals, starting 51 games at safety.
He's liked what he's seen so far with the Titans.
"There's a lot of excitement, not only with the fan base, but with the football locker room as well,'' Johnson said. "We have one goal, and that is to get better, and to shoot to win this AFC South. And we are excited about that, and excited about the direction things are heading in.
"I love the excitement level. I am fitting in well. I guess the only adjustment is getting to know your teammates. It is no different than any other team, you are going to work hard. We are going to work hard, and we are going to be a physical team. … That's been the message that's been passed on from (General Manager) Jon (Robinson), been passed on from coach (Mike) Mularkey, and into the weight room. We have been hitting the weights hard each and every day, gaining a lot of strength, and you can tell this is going to be a different group of guys. It's going to be a different mindset moving forward and everyone is embracing that.
"It has been a lot of fun to be a part of a new organization that has new life and a lot of excitement."
A native of Sulligent, Ala., Johnson had a successful career at Alabama after initially walking on at the school.
Johnson, who played under new Titans secondary coach Deshea Townsend in Arizona, recorded 15 interceptions in his career at Arizona, including nine in the last two seasons.
Johnson started 30 games for the Cardinals over the last two years, and he's played in at least 10 games for Arizona since entering the league as a third-round pick in 2009.
He's glad to be back in this part of the country. He recently bought land in Huntsville, where he'd already planned to build a home even before signing with the Titans.
"It is really cool,'' he said. "It is like a full circle. I played at Alabama, left and went out to Arizona, and now to be back to where my roots are, I am just thankful and blessed with this opportunity to be able to play in front of my friends, my family and enjoy this time. I am excited to be a part of this team and the way things are headed."
Something else Johnson likes: the addition of another Alabama product, running back Derrick Henry.
Johnson believes Henry will be a force in the NFL.
"Derrick is going to be a great back in the league,'' Johnson said. "You watch him – he's a physical guy, has great feet, and it's hard to bring him down one on one. In this league it is going to be great for him, because you design plays a lot of times where you have to make one-on-one tackles, one-on-one plays, and anybody going up against this guy one-on-one is going to be on the rough end of it.
"I think he is going to win a lot of those one-on-one battles. Derrick and DeMarco Murray going back and forth is going to be a nice Thunder and Thunder combination."
TitansOnline.com looks at the NFL career of former Cardinals safety Rashad Johnson. (AP Photos)