NASHVILLE – When Titans second-year cornerback Kristian Fulton looks around him during OTAs, a lot of things look different.
Gone are defensive backs Malcolm Butler, Adoree' Jackson and Kenny Vaccaro, three veterans who helped show him the ropes during his rookie season. The Titans have a new-look secondary now, with plenty of new faces heading into 2021.
Fulton has noticed, of course, even though his focus is on himself.
"I'm very comfortable heading into Year 2, real confident," Fulton said. "(Last year) was a learning experience. The main thing (now) is making sure I am healthy and being able to contribute to the defense.
"(I want to) be urgent with everything I do, not only on the field but off the field. I think that is going to be big for me to compete for a spot in this defense. Just earning the respect of not only my teammates but the coaches, that is going to be a big thing for me heading into the rest of the OTAs and camp."
A second-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft out of LSU, Fulton is excited about what's ahead.
Because of injuries, Fulton played in just six games last season, with two starts. He spent six weeks on Injured Reserve, and many more weeks rehabbing his injury. Fulton said it was a mentally draining year, in part because of the high expectations he has for himself.
Fulton was credited with 16 tackles, one sack, and one interception in 2020.
Earlier this offseason, the Titans signed veteran cornerbacks Janoris "Jackrabbit" Jenkins and Kevin Johnson, while also using their first-round pick on cornerback Caleb Farley. The Titans drafted another cornerback, Elijah Molden, in the third round of the draft.
Fulton, meanwhile, is looking to carve out a role for himself in 2021.
"It feels like a fresh start, really for everybody," Fulton said. "(We have) a lot of new faces, so we have to get to learn each other and be able to jell as one. Not wanting to speak on last year, but we know we can be better, as far as everybody in the secondary. So, it is good to get in here and get a connection with the guys that are here."
Fulton said he's using this offseason to improve his conditioning while learning and competing in the defense. He already feels like he's playing faster in practices.
He hopes to play faster in games in Year 2 as well, no matter where he lines up.
Fulton said he'll be prepared to play "inside or outside" in the secondary.
"I have a few games under my belt, and some gametime experience," he said. "I know what I am doing, I am familiar with the defense, and now it is about locking in and making sure I take the next step every day.
"That's the main thing for me heading into Year 2, being able to find a role in the defense. We let go of some guys in the back end, so there are some spots open, and it's on me to compete for it and do what I do best. I want to compete in order to make sure I'm out there Week One. … I am preparing to be a starter, at whatever role that may be – at corner, nickel or special teams. I just want to show them that I have been working for that and trying to get healthy and show them that I know what I am doing out there. I want to contribute and help the other guys get better, too."