Part of the reason Kenny Vaccaro has lasted with the Tennessee Titans is that he made a strong first impression.
The veteran safety signed with the Titans on Aug. 4, 2018 after having been a free agent for more than four months. The only reason they wanted him was because their starting strong safety, Johnathan Cyprien, sustained a season-ending knee injury in the opening days of training camp.
Once he got the opportunity, though, he was ready, according to coach Mike Vrabel.
“Kenny was out there on the street. (Cyprien) went down, and we signed Kenny,” Vrabel said last week on The Hellipod, NFL Network staffer Dan Hellie’s podcast. “And Kenny came in … I mean, I think it was [the] first day – he had already passed the acclimation period and they were like, ‘OK, here’s your helmet, here are your shoulder pads’ – and there was a rookie receiver, 225 pounds or whatever, was going to try to come in and crack him, and Kenny lit his (butt) up.
“I think everybody was like, ‘Damn, this guy’s ready. This guy’s here. He’s ready and committed to play football and bring a presence.’”
Vrabel did not name the receiver, but the Titans opened training camp with just four wide receivers listed at more than 200 pounds. Three were veterans, Rishard Matthews, Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor. The fourth was Jordan Veasy, an undrafted rookie out of Cal who was listed at 6-foot-3, 221 pounds and was released at the end of the preseason.
Veasy spent time last season on the Buffalo and Washington practice squads in 2019 and Jacksonville's in 2018. He spent all of last offseason and the preseason with Indianapolis but has yet to play in a regular season game.
With Tennessee, Vaccaro has averaged 87 tackles over two seasons, made his NFL playoff debut in 2019 and signed a four-year, $24 million contract that over the next three years – if he sees it to the finish – will nearly double his career earnings to this point.
“He’s been great being back there with Kevin [Byard],” Vrabel said. “It’s been fun to watch those guys the last two years and hopefully we can get that here this year.”