NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan was a first-round draft pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.
Over the past eight seasons with the team, Morgan has been one of the team's most consistent players.
In fact, only one player has recorded more sacks than Morgan in the "Titans era" – defensive end Jevon Kearse.
Leading up to Monday night's game against the Indianapolis Colts, Morgan sat down with Titans Online to discuss his NFL career, and what's ahead:
Think back to your rookie season, in 2010. Time has flown by, huh? *
Morgan: Man, it's gone by fast. It really has. It's hard to believe. I've been fortunate and blessed to stay on the same team the duration of my career, so I am thankful for that. And I am happy that we have a good team now, with great aspirations. I've just been really blessed.
Your NFL career got off to a tough start, as you suffered a torn ACL in Week 4 of your rookie season. How hard was that on you, and how did it impact your way of thinking?
Morgan:It was devastating. I'd never been seriously injured in my career, my whole life, so it was really a "Come to Jesus" moment, literally. It forced me to put a lot of things in the right perspective, and kept me from going down the wrong path on a lot of different things. At the end of the day it was a blessing. I maybe didn't realize it at the time, but it was a blessing.
You've now played in 96 games during your NFL career, with 85 starts. You've played in at least 15 games in five of those seasons. How have you done it?
Morgan: First and foremost, God has blessed me with this opportunity. And I've had different people in my life that have helped guide me, and helped me take care of my body. I've learned from a lot of different pros on how to take care of yourself outside the building as well. Just really developing a work ethic, I think that has helped me stay the course.
I understand one of the things you've done is change your diet. Can you tell me a little bit about what you are doing?*
Morgan: Well, I cut out most meat. No dairy. And so I eat a lot of vegetables, a lot of salads. I am primarily plant-based. The whole goal was to cut down on the inflammation in my body, and to just have better overall health. I am hoping to recover better. And I feel good. I have been on it for about six months, and I feel good.
You've played for Jeff Fisher, Mike Munchak, Ken Whisenhunt and Mike Mularkey. How much different are things now compared to how they've been in the past under previous regimes?
Morgan: Well, we haven't had a lot of success here in the last few years, so I think last year was a great turning point for this franchise. Winning is fun, and when you are losing it is not. To have a successful season last year, even though it wasn't as good as we wanted it to be, it was fun. To be in a position to get to the playoffs was fun. I know that is what you play for and it makes the grind and everything that comes with it more enjoyable. I just really feel like things are headed in the right direction. I like the culture here. There's no doubt in my mind we're on the right track.
I know you went back to school and graduated from the University of Miami's Executive MBA for Artists and Athletes program last year. Why was that so important to you?
Morgan: I think I was just really trying to fit into myself, and trying to take advantage of my offseasons away from football. I think it really helped me gain more knowledge as to what I might want to do when football is over. So I really took it upon myself to learn as much as I could to apply myself. I had a great experience with that.
And I know you've held a football camp for kids in Nashville the past two offseasons as well. You've brought your son out there with you. Why is that important to you?*
Morgan: I think I am just trying to find ways to get more involved in the community, and to find ways to be around kids and to be a role model. My son being a part of it, I just like to have him around to watch, and be around older kids. I grew up around older kids and I think it helps you be more mature at an early age.
What's your best memory as a Titan?
Morgan: The Kansas City win last year (when kicker Ryan Succop hit a field goal in the final play). It was incredible. Just to be able to fight the elements – it was around negative 10 that day. And then to be able to come back and experience a win like that with your teammates and win the way we did, it was just a special moment.
You're No.2 in the "Titans era" in sacks with 39.5, behind only Jevon Kearse. Do you remember "The Freak" and how proud are you of that accomplishment?*
Morgan: Yeah, I definitely remember him. He was such a great player. I am thankful to be able to play as long as I have, and to be able to reach milestones like that. But the team component of things is so much more important to me that any other aspect of it. I want to win, and want to get into the playoffs. And if we can do that, those type of accomplishments are just icing on the cake.
Who's the best offensive lineman you've faced during your career?
Morgan: Joe Thomas (of the Browns). He's just a technician, very disciplined. He's a savvy vet.
How many more years do you think you'll play in the NFL?
Morgan: However many more makes sense. As long as I can compete at a high level, and my body feels good, I will keep playing. I enjoy the game, enjoy the camaraderie with my teammates. As long as I feel good and can play at a high level, I'll want to keep playing.
A look back at the Titans over the years on Monday Night Football. (Photos: AP, Donn Jones)