NASHVILLE, Tenn. –Dick LeBeau doesn't want any dummies on his defense.
Titans rookie safety Kevin Byard knows this well. He grew up a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers, where LeBeau regularly frustrated - and outwitted - opposing offenses.
Byard was watching. And he realizes smarts can get you a long way with LeBeau, who joined the Titans prior to last season.
"I knew about Dick LeBeau since I was young," Byard said. "I watched (Titans secondary coach) DeShea Townsend play with Dick LeBeau for 10-plus years. I watched all those guys, so I'm definitely familiar with him and his play-calling, stuff like that.
"He invented a lot of defenses, so he is definitely an innovator. It's just an honor to be coached by him."
Byard has been on the team for less than a month, but already he's stood out for his smarts. The Titans were impressed by the former Middle Tennessee state star after meeting with him leading up to the NFL Draft.
The Titans select Middle Tennessee State S Kevin Byard in the third round (64th overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft. (AP Photos)
Byard was selected in the third round, 64th overall.
"We are pretty extensive in our defensive calls with coach LeBeau, and when we did work out with Kevin and sit down with him, he was easily the best on the board in being able to retain (information) and shoot it back at us and it is evident out here is very comfortable doing that,'' Titans coach Mike Mularkey said of Byard after his first day of practice in rookie minicamp.
"The numbers he put up (at MTSU), being in the right place at the right time. He has a very good feel. … We try to give the same questions and the same board work to everyone, so it's a fair evaluation. He just clearly stood out, to be able to get back up there and spit it back out."
Byard (5-11, 216) was a football magnet at MTSU, racking up 19 interceptions in four seasons.
During the rookie minicamp, Byard worked in the box and in the middle of the field at the safety position. He's spent time with veteran safeties Da'Norris Searcy and Rashad Johnson.
"I still have a lot to learn, and be better at,'' Byard said. "I am trying to get to the level of the older guys. I want to learn the entire playbook so I can get in with those guys."