Jim Wyatt, SENIOR WRITER/EDITOR
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Kenny Vaccaro spent the offseason waiting on an opportunity.
Now, he has one with the Tennessee Titans.
Vaccaro signed with the Titans on Saturday morning. He was on the field in uniform at the team’s practice at Nissan Stadium later in the day, and said he’s prepared to earn his way in on a new team.
“I have to catch up quick, and kind of earn my respect, and that’s what I plan to do,” Vaccaro said. “The first thing I want to do when I get on a new team is earn the respect of the locker room.”
A first round pick (15th overall) by the Saints in the 2013 NFL Draft, Vaccaro has played in 68 career games, with 67 starts. In five seasons, he’s recorded 386 career tackles, with eight interceptions and 7.5 career sacks.
A 6-foot, 214-pounder, Vaccaro earned All-America honors as a senior at the University of Texas.
Vaccaro said he likes defensive coordinator Dean Pees, and thinks he’s a good fit in his defense.
He’s familiar with plenty of guys in the secondary. He knows Kevin Byard – the players share the same agent. He said he’s close friends with Johnathan Cyprien, the player he’s expected to replace in the secondary. Cyprien suffered a torn ACL in practice this week, and was placed on Injured Reserve.
Vaccaro said he was roommates with Titans cornerback Logan Ryan at the NFL Combine, and he said he has great respect for cornerbacks Malcolm Butler and Adoree’ Jackson. He’s close friends with former Titans safety Michael Griffin, who also played in college at Texas. Griffin has been helping out the coaching staff during training camp as a coaching intern.
“I’m a vet, and it’s a young group,” Vaccaro said. “I’m going on year 6. These guys have been here doing it, and I just want to give it all I’ve got and earn everybody’s respect first.
“I am really excited about this defense. I know I have to earn my way up, and I am ready to do it.”
Vaccaro worked out for the team on Friday at Saint Thomas Sports Park.
He ran sprints and caught passes after Saturday’s practice at Nissan Stadium, and said he was planning to go to Saint Thomas Sports Park later Saturday night to study up more on the playbook.
Coach Mike Vrabel said the plan is to get Vaccaro more involved in upcoming practices. He could play on Thursday night in the preseason opener at Green Bay.
“He had a great workout,” Vrabel said of Vaccaro. “When we expect is he is a pro, and he comes in and learns what to do quickly and we’ll work him in there and see where he can help us.
“He has played in this league before, and he has made plays in the National Football League. It seems like he’s started out with a great attitude.”