NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Titans linebacker Wesley Woodyard is back for his fourth season with the team, so he's seen the rise in recent years.
A nine-year veteran, Woodyard experienced the 2-14 season in 2014, and the 3-13 mark in 2015. So last year's 9-7 finish was a big step in the right direction.
During an appearance on the Titans Caravan last week, Woodyard hit on a number of topics…
New faces on D**
The Titans could have as many as four new starters on defense this fall after signing cornerback Logan Ryan, safety Johnathan Cyprien and defensive lineman Sylvester Williams in free agency, and then drafting cornerback Adoree' Jackson.
Woodyard, a team captain the last three seasons, said the new additions have fit in nicely. Jackson reports for the team's rookie minicamp late Thursday.
"So far it has been pretty fun,'' Woodyard said. "A lot of those guys come from winning organizations, and they want to help build something we've been building on the last few years. They just want to win, and that is something we all want to do. We want to get into the playoffs and from there win the championship."
Woodyard played with Williams, a first-round pick by the Broncos in 2013, in Denver.
"He is one of those guys who always works hard, and never lets his teammates down," Woodyard said of Williams. "It has been fun having him around again."
As for Jackson, Woodyard said he got a chance to watch him in his bowl game at USC.
"I've always been a fan of guys who work hard and have great character," Woodyard said. "And he's one of the guys I was high on before the draft. He is a guy who is going to come in here and help us immediately and he is not going to shy away from working hard."
"It will be competitive"
The new faces on defense will look across the line of scrimmage in practices and see more weapons.
Receivers Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor, along with tight end Jonnu Smith, were added early in the NFL Draft.
All three are expected to make contributions in 2017. Davis was selected fifth overall out of Western Michigan.
"It will be competitive," Woodyard said. "There will be a lot of competition in the OTAs and in camp. Davis is a huge, big receiver that Marcus (Mariota) is going to have a lot of fun with.
"Most of these guys, they just have to grasp that concept of teamwork and working hard. They just have to come in here and not be afraid of challenging anybody and stepping up to be a playmaker from day one."
"We want to be better"
Despite the big improvements, Woodyard and the Titans didn't necessarily celebrate the turnaround last season.
The Titans finished one win short of making the playoffs.
"It was one of those things we have a chance to build on," Woodyard said. "Obviously we didn't get into the playoffs like we wanted to, but we got a chance to sit at home and just take in all of that and (think), 'Hey, we should have been in there. Next year, we are going to get in there.'
"So it hurt a lot, and we can't let up this year."
Woodyard said the feel this offseason is even more intense compared to years past.
"I think everybody just realizes the opportunity that we let go last year,'' Woodyard said. "So we are working way harder this year. We are not just comfortable with where we left off last year. We want to be better than we were last year and the only way to do that is to be better day by day than we were the previous year."