PHOENIX, Ariz. – When the Titans went searching for pass rush help this offseason, Erik Walden fit what the team was looking for in an outside linebacker.
"He is our style of player," Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. "He sets the edge. He is a pain in the rear end to block. He puts a lot of pressure on the quarterback. And he is a fun player to be around.
"He likes football, and he likes violence. And he is good for that position."
Walden, a 10-year veteran who played collegiately at MTSU, stepped into an even bigger role on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. He played a season-high 56 snaps while filling in for injured linebacker Derrick Morgan. Walden's snaps were more limited the first 12 games.
With Morgan's availability for this Sunday's game against the 49ers in question, Walden could be called upon to get his second start of the season.
Walden recorded one of the team's eight sacks against the Cardinals. He now has four on the season, including two in the last three games.
Walden trails only Morgan (7.5), linebacker Brian Orakpo (6.0) and defensive lineman Jurrell Casey (5.0) in sacks despite seeing limited snaps. Linebacker Wesley Woodyard also has four sacks on the season.
"I think he's done a really good job," defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said of Walden. "He gives us another really good outside rusher. He is always a 100 percent player, and he makes us so much stronger depth-wise.
"I am glad that he's here, and I think he has played very well and very hard. There's no doubt he's been a great asset for us."
Walden, who has also tallied 34 tackles, 23 quarterback pressures and four tackles for a loss on the season, was originally selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the sixth round of the 2008 NFL Draft.
Walden was waived by the Cowboys a few months later, and he joined the Chiefs. After spending just 2½ months in Kansas City, he was waived again, and joined the Dolphins, where he stuck around a little longer.
But his career really didn't take off until he landed in Green Bay in 2010. After a productive stretch there from 2010-2012, he joined the Colts. In Indianapolis he tallied 23 sacks from 2013-2016, including 11 sacks last year.
With the Titans, he's played fewer snaps than he did last year in Indianapolis. But he's produced when called upon. And depending on Morgan's status this weekend, he could be called upon for an increased role again.
"It was an adjustment coming (to the Titans) at first, but to come to an organization with a young phenom quarterback and a supporting cast, and some cool vets, it's been great," Walden said. "Everyone has been cool and selfless. It has been an easy adjustment.
"I am glad I came here. Everything is going in the right direction. And when you're out there you have to make it count. My goals are always sky high."
The Tennessee Titans take on the Arizona Cardinals in Week 14 at University of Phoenix Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)