Coaches Could Not Ignore Breon Borders' Competitiveness

Mike Hogan

Breon Borders could not have been any more honest about his path to and through the National Football League.

The Tennessee Titans cornerback is only 25 years old. However, he could be considered as a journeyman.

Not many players on the roster have been as nomadic as Borders, an undrafted product out of Duke University in 2017. He started his NFL career on the Oakland Raiders’ practice squad. He then spent time with the Buffalo Bills, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Washington, Pittsburgh Steelers and Miami Dolphins.

However, he has never had more of a chance to prove his worth than he does right now with the Titans.

“I just had to show them that I can play,” he said. “I always have felt like I can play, whether I was getting playing time or not with other teams. I feel like a lot of things have slowed down for me over the years. … It all just goes back to making plays. If you make plays, you’re going to get on the field.”

And is exactly how it worked for Borders, who the Titans signed to the practice squad in September. Earlier this week, defensive coordinator/outside linebackers coach Shane Bowen said Borders earned his opportunities in practice and proved that he is not one to shy away from competition.

Borders agreed with the assessment.

“I have always been a position where I had to prove myself,” he said. “My first week here, I wanted to make a good first impression. I took some chances on a few routes and made a few plays.”

After playing one game as a practice squad roster addition, the Titans signed him to the 53-man roster earlier this month. Borders now has played in three consecutive games and has started each of the last two.

Before Tennessee, he appeared in 13 total NFL games, all of which occurred last season (11 games with the Jaguars, two with Washington).

“The last time I played 70 snaps was maybe this time last season,” he said. “So, it’s been tough on me. But, I mean, the culture here is ‘be tough, take care of your body, compete and be a pro.’ So, it’s been tough, but as far as play wise, the culture has worked for me. My teammates have helped me a lot. It’s a team effort.”

Borders has made the most of his increased role. He has been one of few bright spots for a very inconsistent Titans defense, which ranks toward the bottom of the league in pass defense and total defense.

While it’s a small sample size, Borders is one of three corners in the NFL who has not given up 100 yards in coverage. The other two are established veterans Breshaud Breeland (Kansas City), and Pro Bowler Jimmy Smith (Baltimore Ravens).

According to Pro Football Focus, Borders was the highest-graded Titan in the team’s last game against the Indianapolis Colts. In the 34-17 loss, He played 70 snaps and had an 84.3 coverage grade. Overall this season, he has one pass defended and 17 tackles, 14 of which have been solo tackles.

“It just comes with time and it comes with help,” he said. “This is a team effort. For me, I got a lot of help from the players, a lot of help from the coaches. It’s been a great experience. I have bounced around the league a little bit and now I am getting a chance to showcase what I can do.”

And for a guy who has bounced around the league as much as Borders, the pressure to perform is always greater. Borders takes pride in that. Perhaps it will be his performance under pressure that earns him an extended stay in the Titans’ starting lineup.

“I am not one of those guys who is going to sit here and say there is no pressure,” he said. “I have bounced around the league. There is pressure to perform. I just feel like it is all about preparation.

“… It’s about going out there and performing. I am just trying to do what I can to help the team. I have always had a motto: ‘Make the team, make the team better.’”

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