NASHVILLE – Veteran cornerback Johnathan Joseph was a first-round pick in the 2006 NFL Draft – the same year the Titans picked quarterback Vince Young.
It's also the same year Isaiah Wilson, the team's first-round pick this year, turned seven years old.
So yeah, it's been a while.
Yet Joseph is still playing – after signing with the Titans earlier this month, he's set to begin his 15th NFL season.
And he's motivated to prove he can still perform at a high level, while showing the younger guys the way.
"I think (it's) just a love of the game," Joseph said. "Obviously, we drafted some guys, and I think it's my job to show those guys the ropes. Fifteen years ago I was a first-round pick, sitting in a lot of those guys' shoes, a rookie, not understanding the playbook, just catching up with the day-to-day life of the NFL, and just the rigors of the schedule compared to being in college. Just having that part, I'm able to help those guys along the way. Anything that can help those guys play better I'm here for."
But make no mistake, Joseph was added to the roster to make an impact on the field, something he's done during the course of his career.
The 36-year-old Joseph, most recently with the Texans, was drafted in 2006 by the Bengals. He played from 2006-2010 with the Bengals before joining the Texans, where he's played the past nine seasons.
Joseph ranks fourth among active NFL players for career interceptions (31) and leads all active NFL cornerbacks in career tackles (750). Joseph also leads all NFL players over the last 20 seasons for passes defensed (194) and can become the first NFL player to reach 200 passes defensed since the statistic became tracked (2000).
In Tennessee, he joins a secondary that includes veteran cornerbacks Malcolm Butler and Adorree' Jackson, along with second-round pick Kristian Fulton from LSU. The Titans also have cornerbacks Tye Smith, Chris Milton, Kenneth Durden, and Kareem Orr in the fold. Veteran Logan Ryan won't return.
"(My role) is to kind of fit in where need be," Joseph said. "But at the same time, just be myself. I'm not coming in here to look to replace anybody, or do anything, or be the savior, or none of that. I'm just coming in here to do whatever my job is, whatever my role is, do that to the utmost. I think, obviously, Logan (Ryan) was a great player for those guys. I don't want to get into comparisons. When I see somewhere that I need to speak up, or give some input, or help guys here or there, that will always be me at any point of my life. So, I think that's just natural for me. Any time I'm there to give information back and be helpful it's only right."
Joseph has familiarity with the city of Nashville, and the coaching staff with the Titans.
His wife, Delaina, attended Hillsboro High School and then Tennessee State University. The couple ended up meeting in Cincinnati, during his rookie season.
While in Houston, Joseph played under Titans head coach Mike Vrabel and secondary coach Anthony Midget, who joined the Titans earlier this offseason after coaching with the Texans.
"I think both of those guys have the same mentality and want to play winning football and bring that mentality each and every day to the classroom and the football field, obviously," Joseph said of Midget and Vrabel.
"I think just having a history with him, knowing his mentality, knowing his expectations," Joseph continued when speaking of Vrabel. "Obviously, been playing against the Titans in the division. I know what they bring as a football team, they made a great push last year and have a lot of great players on this team. I think he's doing a great job of managing that. That's his biggest skillset, I think, that I remember about him. Being around him, the way that he manages guys. But at the same time, he has a high expectation level for you to do your job at the highest level, and be a professional at all times, and I think that's what's great about him and I think that's what makes him a great coach."
With the Titans, Joseph is ready to make his mark.
The 5-foot-11, 186-pounder has been named to two Pro Bowls in his career – in 2011 and 2012. He's been a consistent starter and performer during his 14-year NFL career, and has 31 career interceptions, 754 tackles, 195 passes defensed, seven forced fumbles, and five fumble recoveries to show for it. He has scored eight touchdowns in his career.
Joseph played in 14 games for the Texans in 2019, when he racked up 51 tackles while also recording an interception.
His work preparing for 2020 has already started.
"This league is always about getting young. I think you have to do more the older you get, some people think it's the opposite way, but I think it's the more you do, you have to stay ahead of the curve," he said. "I think just being able to go out and just compete with the younger guys, whether it's in your training session, your preparation, whatever it may be. Just always having that mentality. Any time you have a chance to be out there and wear the NFL shield it's a privilege, don't take it for granted.
"I take a lot of pride in (still being able to play at a high level) just because it's a blessing. At the same time, anything at this point in this stage in my career is not a given. You have to work for it and still go out and put in the work, and I enjoy it. That's the best part about football is the grind. When you get out there and play in the games on Sunday and all that, that's fun."
A look back at veteran cornerback Johnathan Joseph's 14-year NFL career with the Houston Texans and Cincinnati Bengals. (AP Photos)