On His Best Behavior
Offensive linemen have accounted for three of the Tennessee Titans’ nine penalties through two weeks of the regular season.
While that number through two games is relatively low, left tackle Taylor Lewan’s performance stands out. The three-time Pro Bowler has not committed a single penalty. For Lewan, this is as rare as hen’s teeth, and he knows it.
“I am being conscious of it. That’s the easiest thing I can say. That’s really what it is,” Lewan said on Wednesday. “I have gone into seasons not worried about it. … I don’t think I have ever made it through the first game of the season ever without getting a penalty. I would say it’s a step in the right direction.”
This season is the first in which Lewan has not been called for a penalty in either of his first two games.
He missed the Titans' first four games last season and then committed four penalties for 25 yards in his first two appearances, which came in Weeks 5 and 6. Overall, officials flagged Lewan nine times for 78 yards in the first two contests he played from 2015-19.
The 29-year-old has led the Titans in penalties in each of the past five seasons (45 total).
Lewan was penalized 10 times for 74 yards in 12 regular season games in 2019. Nine of his 10 violations last season occurred on possessions in which the Titans did not score. In the previous four seasons combined (2015-18), Lewan committed 34 penalties in 62 regular season contests for 404 yards. In five career postseason games (two in 2017, three in 2019), he committed two penalties for 10 yards.
A first-round selection by the Titans in 2014, Lewan has been flagged 51 total times in his career. Of those, 17 have been for holding, 14 have been for false starts and 20 have been for other violations
For as much as Lewan has been penalized in his career, it can feel as if officials are targeting the 6-foot-7, 309-pounder who was an All-American collegiate talent at Michigan.
“I would say in recent years, I don’t know if we have a good relationship [with officials] if they are throwing that many flags at me,” he said. “You play in this league long enough you get to meet those guys and talk to them. … They are all good guys. They are trying to do their best during the game to make the best calls.
“I am trying to stay out of their eyesight as much as possible. So, yeah, you get to know them, and when you get as many flags as I have, you probably talk to them a little bit more than most guys.”
How long Lewan’s penalty-less stretch will continue is uncertain. That is for he and the officials to decide. Lewan’s longest stretch without one is seven games (Weeks 6-13 in 2015).
No matter how long it lasts, his efforts to fix his biggest flaw on the field have not gone unnoticed early this season.
“... Will I probably have a penalty this season? Yes,” Lewan said. “... It’s definitely something when you notice a flaw of yours, you want to work on it. That’s what I chose to work on this offseason.”