Brian Callahan Leaning On Lots Of Cincy Ties As He Works To Turn Around The Titans

Tennessee Titans quarterback Will Levis (8) looks to throw a pass during NFL football practice Wednesday, May 29, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)
Tennessee Titans quarterback Will Levis (8) looks to throw a pass during NFL football practice Wednesday, May 29, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Hiring Brian Callahan as Tennessee's new head coach meant the Titans would look different this season.

Signing cornerback Chidobe Awuzie and wide receiver Tyler Boyd filled key needs for Tennessee with the players also able to spread Callahan’s approach inside the Titans’ locker room.

Add new special teams coordinator Colt Anderson and safeties coach Steve Jackson, who coached the Bengals' cornerbacks in 2020 and 2021, there's an undeniable Cincinnati flavor that Callahan and the Titans hope speeds up the turnaround of a franchise that has lost 18 of its past 24 games.

Callahan called Boyd and Awuzie huge assets as players not just to the locker room and the Titans but to the first-time head coach as well.

“I love seeing both of them every day. It gives me some comfort. That part’s nice," Callahan said.

The added bonus with Boyd is the wide receiver has been in the offense Callahan helped run as the Bengals' offensive coordinator the past five years. That allows Boyd to answer any questions from teammates such as three-time All-Pro DeAndre Hopkins, Calvin Ridley or Treylon Burks quickly.

Tennessee is counting on Awuzie to start at cornerback after letting both starters last season leave as free agents. The Titans also traded for L'Jarius Sneed, but Callahan said Awuzie, who spent his past three seasons in Cincinnati, is everything a coach wants in a player.

"He’s a huge addition for us on the defensive side,” Callahan said.

Boyd was enjoying being a free agent and trying to figure out what team might fit him best after eight NFL seasons. The Titans wanted to keep adding help for second-year quarterback Will Levis and Callahan's passing offense.

The chance to join Callahan? Boyd called it a comfortable combination.

“That’s my guy, and he’s a heck of a coach,” Boyd said. "I mean that’s why he’s here, you know, and just being able to fit in our schemes, which I do well. I’ve been a part of this offense for a while now for fifth, sixth year you know? So I just felt like it was the right fit.”

Awuzie had even more connections to this new coaching staff. The cornerback was drafted by Dallas in 2017 with Ben Bloom, now Tennessee's outside linebackers coach, who worked for the Cowboys for his first three seasons. Callahan's offensive coordinator Nick Holz played at Awuzie's alma mater, Colorado.

The cornerback called all the ties a “true blessing" and also mentioned those giving him a comfort level.

“It’s just like everything was perfect for me,” Awuzie said. "So I’m really comfortable and excited to get after for those guys.”

Sneed wasn't at Wednesday's organized team activity that was the lone session open to reporters this week. But Awuzie had heard rumors and chatter of the two-time Super Bowl champ possibly joining Tennessee before the Titans traded for Sneed in March.

The cornerbacks use the same physical trainer in Dallas, allowing Awuzie to meet with his new teammate after the deal was finalized. Awuzie called Sneed a great addition.

“Already I could tell he’s very calm under pressure,” Awuzie said of Sneed. "I can tell he’s competitive. He’s asking questions, and I know when he gets out there, the defense is going to feel it for sure.”

The Titans are wrapping up installation of Callahan's new offense with a mandatory minicamp next week and then the end of the offseason program.

Boyd said Awuzie will do nothing but make the Titans' offense better simply because of his familiarity with how Callahan attacks an offense.

“Once we get out there and play against other guys who’s not used to seeing it, ... it just feels supernatural and easy,” Boyd said.

NOTES: The Titans signed rookie LB Cedric Gray, their fourth-round pick at No. 106 overall, to a contract. DL T'Vondre Sweat, their second-round pick, is the only one of their seven draft picks still not signed.