Patriots prepare for Titans familiar faces

Andy Hart
August 14, 2019 - 6:38 am
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The Patriots are in Tennessee this week for a few days of joint practice action with the Titans leading up to the teams’ preseason battle in Nashville on Saturday night.

Similar to last week’s work with the Lions in Detroit, the opposing sideline will include plenty of familiar faces in Tennessee.

Here’s a look at some of the former New England players and staffers that have found another NFL home in Tennessee.

Mike Vrabel – In his second-season as the Tennessee head coach, following a first year that included a victory over the Patriots, Vrabel made a name for himself as a productive, versatile, heady player on Bill Belichick’s New England defense from 2001-08. An All-Pro with 12 sacks in 2007, Vrabel was traded from the Patriots to the Chiefs after the 2008 season, causing him to not speak with Belichick for a while. After his playing career concluded he joined the coaching ranks at his alma mater at Ohio State and then jumped to the NFL with the Texans from 2014-17. You might recall that Vrabel was also used as a goal line tight end in his time in New England, scoring touchdowns on all eight of his catches in his career.

Jon Robinson – The Titans GM spent 12 years with the Patriots (2002-13) scouting department, ascending from area scout to director of college scouting. He certainly has had his eye on New England talent in his time in Tennessee.

Dean Pees – Tennessee’s defensive coordinator was an assistant on Belichick’s staff from 2004-09, working as linebackers coach (2004-05) and then defensive coordinator (2006-09).

Dion Lewis – The undersized, shifty running back resurrected his NFL career with the Patriots from 2015-17, starting 19 of 30 games played despite missing time to a torn ACL. After rushing for 1,413 yards in New England with eight touchdowns while also catching 85 passes for 696 yards and another five scores, Lewis moved on to Tennessee as a free agent in 2018. Lewis also had somewhat pointed words for his former team a year ago.

Malcolm Butler – Shortly after becoming the most infamous character in the Patriots Super Bowl LII loss to the Eagles when he was dressed but did not play, the former Pro Bowler Butler moved on to the Titans on a huge free agent contract in 2018. He had an at-times bumpy first season in Tennessee, starting 11 of 16 games played and recording three interceptions. Arriving in New England as an undrafted rookie, Butler made arguably the biggest defensive play in Super Bowl history with his game-clinching goal line interception against the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX.

Logan Ryan – Ryan was a third-round pick of the Patriots out of Rutgers in 2013. In four seasons in New England he started 40 of 64 games played, establishing himself as a solid defender and elite tackler. He joined the Titans as a free agent in 2017, starting all 29 games he’s played for Tennessee over the last two seasons.

Josh Kline – Entrenched at guard for the Titans having started all 46 games he’s played for Tennessee over the last three years, Kline spent three seasons in New England as an undrafted free agent from 2013-15. As a Patriot he started 18 of 33 games played.

Jamil Douglas – The Titans guard spent the bulk of the 2016 season on the Patriots practice squad.

Frank Herron – The defensive lineman was an undrafted free agent with the Patriots last summer and spent part of the 2018 season on the New England practice squad.

Cody Hollister – One of the Hollister twins (Jacob Hollister is a tight end with the Seahawks) who joined New England two years ago as undrafted rookies, the wide receiver spent his rookie NFL season in 2017 on the practice squad and landed on NFI a year later due to a back injury. Hollister signed with the Titans this offseason and is fighting for a reserve role at receiver.

Jared Puffer – Currently the Titans media relations manager, Puffer spent four seasons working in the Patriots public relations department from 2003-2006. He’s now in his 13th season with Tennessee.

Related: 5 things to watch for during Patriots-Titans joint practices