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Returning Titans Excited About Team's Recent Additions


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans have added some big pieces in free agency, and returning players are fired up about it.

"Those guys," All-Pro safety Kevin Byard said of running back Dion Lewis and cornerback Malcolm Butler, "are going to make us better. We welcome both of those guys. They're going to help us win."

Byard said he met Butler last week, the day he was introduced to Nashville media after signing his contract. Like Lewis, Butler joins the Titans after playing previously with the New England Patriots.

On Thursday, the Titans also agreed to terms with offensive lineman Kevin Pamphile, formerly of the Buccaneers.

"I think he is going to be a great addition to our room," Byard said of Butler. "Just his mentality, his grit. He is a no-nonsense guy who just wants to go out there and ball and be successful. And that is the mentality we have in our DB room. We don't have any big-name guys. We are just out here fighting and clawing for everything we can get."

As for Lewis, Byard said he's painfully familiar.

The 5-foot-8, 195-pound Lewis racked up 141 all-purpose yards against the Titans in last year's playoffs -- 62 rushing yards on 15 carries, and he also caught nine passes for 79 yards.

In the last eight games of the 2017 season, Lewis led the NFL in rushing yards (625), with an average of 5.12 yards per carry. Compared to all backs with 150 or more rushing attempts, his per-carry average of 4.98 yards led the NFL in 2017.

"You saw what he did to us last year in the playoffs," Byard said of Lewis. "With him and Derrick Henry partnered up back there, that's going to be a dynamic duo."

Titans cornerback Logan Ryan knows the players well.

He was teammates with Lewis and Butler with the Patriots.

Butler started 47 of 48 for the Patriots over the past three seasons. He's recorded eight interceptions in his NFL career. He played 98 percent of the defensive snaps in the regular season in 2017, when he recorded 60 tackles and two interceptions.

In his rookie season, Butler sealed New England's 28-24 Super Bowl XLIX win over Seattle in the closing seconds when he intercepted quarterback Russell Wilson's pass intended for Ricardo Lockette in the end zone.

"I have known Dion since high school," Ryan said. "He dominated in college (at Pittsburgh). He is such a good football player, a legit player. Wherever he goes he is going to make that team better, especially us. I was so excited when we got him.

"And Malcolm, I was there to see his whole story take off. He was the sixth corner on the team (as a rookie), and he made the game-winning play in the Super Bowl. I saw it play out with both of them.

"I am happy for them, and I think they are both very excited to prove themselves once again, and that is cool. You get this money and some people might think you are going to shut it down, but they're not like that at all. I am excited about both of them."

New Titans RB Dion Lewis signs his contract and is introduced to reporters at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn)

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