Jim Wyatt, SENIOR WRITER/EDITOR
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Rashaan Evans was a leader at the University of Alabama, where he helped guide the Crimson Tide to their most recent national title.
With the Titans, head coach Mike Vrabel is putting those leadership traits to use.
Vrabel put Evans, the team’s first-round pick, in charge of the rookies during the offseason. He wants him to make sure they’re on the bus on time in the morning, in the weight room, and at breakfast before meetings.
He’s liked what he’s seen on the field as well.
“I’ve seen him do a better job in the huddle, and taking control,” Vrabel said of Evans. “It’s not that he has all the answers, but he has been very conscientious, so we have all been pleased with that attitude.”
Evans, an inside linebacker, has welcomed the responsibilities.
“I embrace that role,” he said. “And I know there’s a lot of guys in that group that can do the same thing.”
Selected 22nd overall by the Titans, Evans played in 53 games for the Crimson Tide, where he totaled 152 tackles, 15 sacks and 19 quarterback hits.
He was a full-time starter in 2017, when he tallied 74 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, six sacks and seven quarterback hits.
Evans hasn’t been perfect, something Vrabel admits. But he made strides from the beginning of the offseason program to the end of this month’s minicamp.
“I think he’s got a lot to learn,” Vrabel said of Evans. “I think he’s conscientious. He’s not where needs to be to start for our defense and that’s OK. There’s no expectations, these guys all want to say, ‘Did I exceed expectations?’ We haven’t played a game yet. Whether it be Rashaan or Harold (Landry), as long as these guys are coming out each day and they’re getting better at something, that’s what we’re worried about and I think they have. I think he’s improved but we all have a long way to go.”
Evans said he has a better understanding of the defense. He’s watched extra film. He’s taken notes, and learned from the veterans.
“It’s gone well,” he said, “just me getting used to the NFL lifestyle and getting ready for camp and things like that.”
Titans inside linebackers coach Tyrone McKenzie said Evans has handled himself like a pro in his first few months on the job.
“He has been growing, maturing, and taking strides in the right direction learning the defense and building his role on the team,” McKenzie said. “I think the biggest thing for Rashaan, and I’ve told him, is to come in every day, and try and win the day. Win the meeting, win each play. Just focus on getting better each day and everything is going to fall into place. Just try and take it one game at a time.
“His instincts, and the way he carries himself, he is very mature. He has done well, and he just has to keep working. He’s a worker. He asks all the right questions and he is willing to learn.”
The Titans wrapped up minicamp on June 14.
The team is scheduled to practice in training camp for the first time on July 26.
Evans said he’ll be ready.
“Just continue to keep improving, man,” he said. “I just want to keep working on the little things and just continuing to develop the chemistry with the guys I have on defense.
“I am very excited. To play my first game in the NFL, it is something I have been dreaming of my whole life. So I am already looking forward to it.”