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Soft-Spoken LB Aaron Wallace Making Noise for Titans


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Aaron Wallace doesn't say a whole lot.

Ask around about the Titans linebacker and teammates and coaches agree he's one of the quietest guys on the team.

Yet Wallace has been getting himself noticed, especially of late. He's been one of the team's defensive standouts in the preseason, and his emergence has come at just the right time.

"He is off to a phenomenal start,'' Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo said of Wallace. "A-Wall, he is quiet, and he's consistent. He's a hard-working guy. Really, he's exactly what a Titan is all about -- he comes in here and works hard every day, and when his name is called he's going to make that play. He is humble, but he gets the job done and that's what I love about A-Wall."

A seventh-round draft pick by the Titans in 2016 out of UCLA, Wallace leads the team with 1.5 sacks through two preseason games. He's also recorded eight tackles, and is tied for the team lead with two tackles for a loss. It was Wallace who sacked Panthers quarterback Garrett Gilbert in the closing minutes of Saturday's game at Nissan Stadium. Wallace knocked the ball out in the process, and after the Titans recovered it at the Carolina 3, they cashed it in for the game-winning touchdown.

Titans linebackers coach Lou Spanos, who coached Wallace at UCLA, said the second-year pro is a smart, instinctive player who has put in the time to make himself better.

"He is a professional," Spanos said of Wallace. "He really asks good questions. He works hard every day, is accountable, and he puts in extra time."

Titans coach Mike Mularkey said Wallace not only has the smarts, he has the strength and stamina to play at a high level. Plus, he's versatile.

"We can play Aaron at a number of positions,'' Mularkey said. "He's a powerful man, very powerful. He's facing some much bigger tackles when he's rushing. And he's been very productive. He's had the ability to have more sacks than he's had. We think he should've had four in his first two preseason games. He's been very productive.

"Aaron is very quiet. Very good person, very nice guy, but when the ball is snapped he's a violent player. He's very powerful, you can't tell it but he is."

Wallace isn't the first in his family to make it to the NFL. His father, Aaron Wallace Sr., was selected in the second round of the 1990 draft by the Oakland Raiders, where he played eight seasons and racked up 21 sacks in 202 career games.

Aaron Wallace Jr. played in 10 games for the Titans in 2016. He tallied 15 tackles and a sack, but he was slowed by a shoulder injury he suffered in the team's Oct. 27 win over the Jaguars. Wallace played through the injury, which slowed him early this offseason as well. But he's back to feeling like himself again now.

And heading into Year 2, Wallace said he feels like a different player.

"You don't have as much of the growing pains like you do going from college to the NFL," he said. "This offseason, I knew what I wanted to work on, and I had a whole offseason to plan for this season."

Wallace knows there's still work to be done, however.

While he's happy with his start, he's not satisfied.

"I think I am off to a good start, but I have also missed a few sacks,'' he said. "The important thing is I am putting myself in a position to make plays, but I just have to finish."

The Titans select UCLA LB Aaron Wallace in the seventh round (222nd overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft. (AP Photos)

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