NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It was only a matter of time before eight-year veteran linebacker James Anderson found another home in the NFL. The Titans decided he was the right fit to replace injured linebacker Zach Brown, who will miss the remainder of the season with a torn pectoral muscle suffered in the season opener at Kansas City.
Anderson, who signed with the Titans this week, was a third-round pick (88th overall) by the Panthers back in 2006, spending his first seven NFL seasons in Carolina. His name is all over the team's record books. Anderson led the team in tackles in both 2010 and 2011 with 140 and 145 tackles, respectively. Those 145 tackles in 2011 were a franchise record for a single season. The former Virginia Tech Hokie also owns Carolina's single-game tackles record with 20 in a 2012 game against the Giants.
Anderson's success continued with his move to the Chicago Bears in 2013 when he led the team in tackles with 104 and posted a career-high four sacks. For his career, Anderson has totaled 556 tackles, 12 sacks, three interceptions, five force fumbles and eight fumble recoveries.
Knowing veteran linebackers with credentials like that are hard to find on the waiver wire, it's a resume Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt was pleased to add three weeks into the regular season.
"He's a veteran player," Whisenhunt said. "For whatever this means, he's a proven commodity. We've got to see with how he fits in what we're asking him to do and how quickly he learns it. From a depth perspective it's nice to have him."
The track record is nice, but Anderson also has experience as an inside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, making him a good fit to fill the void left by Brown.
"We'll get a chance to see, but we feel comfortable that he's a veteran player and that he's been in this league and started," Whisenhunt said. "He came in and worked out and did a nice job. It was something with Zach [Brown] going down he was a guy who's played inside for number of years, so we're glad to have him."
While Titans coaches were getting the team's other linebackers prepped to play the Cowboys, management took the time it needed to find the right replacement for Brown.
"I think it was more of not being able to get somebody ready to play in time [against the Cowboys]," said Whisenhunt. "We knew we'd have to dedicate those reps to some other guys to get them prepared. Now that we've had a chance to work him out and feel good about him, we can get him in here and get him some reps."
Anderson said he was working out at home when he got the call. He isn't the first new member of the Titans to have to play catch up, but the linebacker says he's not concerned.
"It's different. I wouldn't necessarily say it was tough," Anderson said. "It's a challenge learning new terminology and a new defense, but that's part of the game."
Like all newcomers before him, Anderson had nothing but good things to say about the environment in the Titans locker room.
"I like it. This defense is fun to play," Anderson said. "These guys like playing ball and it's a good group of guys. They take care of you. They welcomed me in the first day and said 'let's go'."
Defensive coordinator Ray Horton said he expects Anderson to start playing a significant role on special teams as he continues to learn Tennessee's defense.