NASHVILLE – As Titans defensive lineman Jurrell Casey prepares for his ninth NFL season, he's looking at himself and at those around him.
Casey's personal offseason priority is to get bigger, and stronger – and it's working.
Speaking on the Titans Caravan recently, Casey said he weighed in at 284 pounds the other day. He'd love to play at 290 pounds this fall, but knows it could be a challenge based on the rigors of the season. But he already feels stronger than he did in the fall, when his weight dipped to 275 pounds – his lowest playing weight in the NFL.
He's adjusted his diet and training regiment in time to help.
"I want to be a little bit stronger," Casey said, "and a little bit stouter to help the overall team as a whole."
Casey said another focus is on the big picture of the defense.
"The biggest thing is really getting to know the guys around you, getting to know what their jobs are, getting to know their assignments," Casey said. "If you understand what the guys next to you are doing, and what is coming beforehand, it makes your game go to another level and I think that is what this season is going to be about – understanding what my safeties are doing, what my corners are doing, understanding where the blitz is coming from beforehand. If you do that while understanding what you can do, it can take your game to another level and you can play 10 times faster."
Casey finished the 2018 season with 72 tackles, a whopping 50 quarterback pressures, and a team-high seven sacks.
In the midst of the team's four-game winning streak, Casey suffered a knee injury in the team's December 22 win against the Redskins, and it robbed him of a chance to play in the season finale vs. the Colts, a game with playoff implications. The Titans lost that contest against Indianapolis, and their season ended short of the playoffs, and their Super Bowl dream.
Earlier this offseason, Casey told Titans Online the memory of that game – and being forced to be a spectator -- will motivate him heading into 2019.
"It was definitely hard – very tough for me," Casey said. "I probably cried the first couple of nights. I know it wasn't too bad of a crazy injury, but just to know that I wasn't able to help my team the following week, couldn't participate in one of the biggest games of my career with my teammates, it hurt. It hurt me bad.
"But at the end of the day I have to get ready for another season. I have to chuck that behind me and get ready to go."
Casey said he's feeling good now.
He spent a lot of time rehabbing, and he's working to be in the best condition of his playing career while also getting stronger. After being on a Vegan diet, he's switched to a Pescatarian diet to get extra protein, but is still on a plant-based diet.
Casey said he's looking forward to 2019, and being led by head coach Mike Vrabel and defensive coordinator Dean Pees.
"The biggest thing I'm looking at is trying to make it the playoffs, and trying to get to the Hall of Fame," said Casey, a four-time Pro Bowl selection who has 611 career tackles and 46 career sacks. "I have been to the playoffs one time since I've been here. Our team has been good, winning nine games three years in a row. But we have to take it to another level. And I want to do my part to help get us there.
"We have a coach who understands football and understands how players should play. He's putting is in great situations, and with two great defensive minds in Vrabel and Pees, we could be unstoppable on defense."
TitansOnline.com looks back at defensive tackle Jurrell Casey's Pro Bowl season in 2018. (AP Photos)