Titans Rookie LB Robert Spillane is Ballin' – and He's Having a Ball in the Process


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Robert Spillane intercepted a pass on Saturday in Pittsburgh, and the look on his face was priceless.

The Titans rookie linebacker had a huge smile as he clutched the football. As he headed to the sideline, he was swarmed by his teammates, who clearly love a good underdog story.

"Running off the field with that ball," Spillane said with a smile, "is one of the greatest feelings you could ever ask for."

Spillane has proven to be a baller since making the team's 90-man roster on a tryout basis earlier this offseason. He leads the team in tackles during the preseason with 18, and he's consistently been around the football. Spillane nearly recorded an interception earlier in the preseason, and Titans coach Mike Vrabel said he kidded Spillane about the missed opportunity.

Vrabel said Spillane jokingly told him he'd get one in Pittsburgh to make up for it, which he did, of course.

"He is out there all the time, and he is into it," Vrabel said. "He loves football. … He continues to show up, and we'll continue to coach him."

Spillane, who starred at Western Michigan, is having a blast.

"Football is more fun now than it's ever been for me," Spillane said. "A lot of people say it's most fun when you first start playing, and it gets worse in time. Not me. I've had a newfound love for football, coming here to the Titans and working with (inside linebackers) coach (Tyrone) McKenzie. Really, all the linebackers in the room, they're such great personalities, and they've brought me in as part of the team and made me feel like this is home already, even though I am an undrafted guy out of nowhere. It feels really good to be in the situation I'm in."

Spillane, who recorded 312 tackles, 32.5 tackles for a loss, 10 sacks, four interceptions, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in an incredibly production college career, is popular with coaches and his teammates.

The grandson of 1953 Heisman Trophy winner John Lattner, Spillane takes a no-nonsense approach his teammates love. After the game, he refused to take credit for the pick, instead pointing to the defensive back who was in coverage on the play, Kenneth Durden.

Titans veteran linebacker Wesley Woodyard singled out Spillane on a Snapchat story over the weekend, posting a picture of Spillane with a caption that read: "Love seeing undrafted guys ball out!"

Spillane said the veterans in the locker room have embraced him, and he appreciates it.

"There's so much room to grow," Spillane said. "It may seem like I am productive out there, but there's still plays to be made. I had a few missed tackles that need to be made. No matter how good you do, you are never as good as you think you are or as bad as you think you are if you perform poorly. Even on good plays you might make, you still have to learn from the starters and learn how to grow."

At the end of this week, the Titans have some tough decisions to make across the roster as the team trims the count from 90 to 53.

Spillane said he's not going to spend much time worrying about his fate.

He plans on just continuing to play football, and having fun doing it.

"I just try and control what I can control," he said. "I know at the end of the day it is up to coach Vrabel and (GM) Jon Robinson to make the decisions on who they think are the best 53 players, and that is not up to me. All I can do is go out there and prepare the way I do, 100 percent all through practices and through the games.

"I am going to do whatever I can to be a part of this team."

The Tennessee Titans take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 3 of the preseason on Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018 at Heinz Field. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)

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