NASHVILLE – Jack Gibbens put in the work last offseason, doing everything he could to make the Titans roster out of training camp.
Yet when the Titans made their cuts at the end of last August, the Titans rookie linebacker was informed he was being waived by the team.
"After training camp, I got sent home," Gibbens, who initially joined the team as an undrafted free agent in May 2022, recalled earlier this week. "So, I drove back to Texas."
A week later, however, Gibbens got another call from the Titans.
The team wanted to sign him back to the practice squad, and that's where he spent most of the 2022 season, before ending the year on the team's 53-man roster.
"When I got back out here, I just kind of said: I am going to make the most of this opportunity," Gibbens said. "They gave me a second chance and I just kind of took the mindset of: 'I have to get better every day. I have to fight to earn every day.' And that's the same mindset I am trying to have right now.
"Everybody is trying to earn their job every day; nothing is guaranteed in this league. So, just make the most of every opportunity you get every time you get to step on the field."
A year later, things are much different for Gibbens.
Gibbens isn't just on the team – he's one of the team's starters, at inside linebacker, next to Azeez Al-Shaair.
Gibbens has recorded 11 tackles in the first two games, including a tackle for a loss. Gibbens played in 45 of the team's 68 defensive snaps (66%) against the Chargers, along with 12 snaps on special teams.
Titans Coach Mike Vrabel, who nicknamed Gibbens "Dr. Gibby" last year because of his smarts, said the inside backer has improved over the past year.
"I just think he's a tall, linear, lengthy player," Vrabel said of Gibbens. "And I think he worked extremely hard to improve his lower body strength. (Gibbens) was running just as well (this year), was running better than he ran last year. Just from a tracking standpoint. Not that that's the end all, be all. But, he knows what to do. He communicates. He's a good communicator and he's where he's supposed to be."
The 6-foot-3, 242-pound Gibbens didn't take the easy path to the NFL.
Gibbens played four seasons at Abilene Christian (2017-2020) before transferring to Minnesota, where he played his final college season in 2021. Gibbens spent time working as a financial analysis intern while also serving as a teaching and research assistant in college.
But he never stopped chasing his NFL dream, even after going undrafted.
Gibbens ended up appearing in five games with two starts a year ago for the Titans, registering 27 tackles, an interception, and a special teams stop. He spent 11 games on the team's practice squad in 2022.
Now, he wants to keep doing his part on the Titans.
"Coach Vrabel always preaches: It doesn't matter how you got here, it's just what you do when you get here," Gibbens said. "It's been a journey, obviously last year getting cut, being on the practice squad and then finally getting an opportunity to play, and this year in a completely different role.
"I'm just trying to keep the same process that I've had since I got here: Just get better every day, keep my head down and keep working."