NASHVILLE – When Jayon Brown re-signed with the Titans last month, it put a familiar face in the middle of the defense.
But when the Titans inside linebacker looks around him on the field this fall, he'll see a lot of new faces.
In the past few weeks, Tennessee's defense has undergone a facelift.
Gone are former starters Malcolm Butler, Adoree' Jackson and Kenny Vaccaro in the secondary – all three were released in March. Defensive back Desmond King has signed elsewhere as well.
Meanwhile, the Titans have added a number of key defenders, including edge rusher Bud Dupree, defensive lineman Denico Autry, and cornerbacks Janoris "Jackrabbit" Jenkins and Kevin Johnson. Safety Matthias Farley and outside linebacker Ola Adeniyi have also been added, and will compete for spots, and playing time.
More additions will come on defense in the NFL Draft, and in free agency.
Brown will miss his former teammates, but he likes the possibilities moving forward.
"We've got playmakers," Brown said of the additions. "With Bud, watching him at the Steelers, he's nothing but a playmaker, getting strip-sacks and all that good stuff. With (Autry), he makes plays, stopping screens, getting home to the quarterback. (He's) a really good pass rusher, is big and strong.
"And with the Jackrabbit, he's been making plays his whole career. We're glad to have a savvy cornerback like that to make plays and create some turnovers for this defense. We've added some new pieces. We're going to have a lot of new faces, and some old faces as well. Whenever we get back to it, we just have to feel each other out, learn this defense together under (DC) Shane (Bowen) and Coach (Mike) Vrabel, and try and go out there and be the best defense that we can be in the league."
Since entering the NFL in 2017, Brown has tallied 367 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 35 quarterback pressures, 17 tackles for a loss, three interceptions, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and 28 passes defensed.
Brown has played in 56 games over the past four seasons, with 33 starts.
In 2021, he'll work under Bowen, who was officially named defensive coordinator this offseason after calling plays as the team's outside linebackers coach last season.
Brown said he's excited about the possibilities in 2021 following a year when the team struggled on defense while allowing too many third down conversions, and points.
Brown said he was "ecstatic" when he learned Bowen was being promoted.
"(Coach Bowen) is a really good guy, a really smart coach, and he knows what it takes to win, and so does coach Vrabel and the rest of the guys on our staff," Brown said. "It is an exciting time, and I am looking forward to the play-calling and just getting after it with the guys. And I am very happy for Shane. He is a very smart coach, and it is well deserved.
"(When we come back) we just have to go back in there and start from the basics, getting our techniques and fundamentals down. And, eventually getting that chemistry on the practice field (so) we can communicate and learn how each one of us plays, and just play off of our strengths in getting to the quarterback and getting the ball in our hands. I am looking forward to what this defense is going to do this year, and I am excited for it."