NASHVILLE — Keith Carter respects Dillon Radunz’s intellect.
But the Tennessee Titans offensive line coach doesn’t want to see the 2021 second-round pick get weighed down with too thought a lot.
Radunz saw only limited action during his rookie season. He was inactive for six games, including the Titans’ playoff loss to Cincinnati, and had just 124 total offensive snaps.
But the 6-foot-6, 301-pound Minnesota native is expected to fight for the Titans’ starting right tackle spot this year.
A key to Radunz’s success? Avoiding what is sometimes called paralysis through analysis.
“He’s very analytical, and he just has to learn to detach and trust his training and his ability, and just build that confidence and play fast,” Carter said. “He is very intelligent, very intelligent, very cerebral. It’s just breaking down that wall of overthinking and (not) having that which is slowing you down.
Radunz is the first to acknowledge that there was a lot to think about during his rookie season.
He was making the leap from North Dakota State to the FCS level after playing just one game in 2020, moving from his usual position of left tackle and adapting to an offense very different from the one he played for at the start. ‘university.
“All the new stuff and stuff – like you’re in a new city, trying to figure out the team, trying to figure out the scheme,” Radunz said. “The programs are a little different from North Dakota to here and stuff like that. So just figuring that out and getting all that comfort under my belt is huge. You can focus a bit more on all the finer details.
It’s hard to read too much into OTA sessions for linemen. Players do not wear protective gear and contact is not permitted.
Carter has seen signs, however, that Radunz is playing less coy.
“Obviously we’re not at full speed and all that stuff, but you can see his footwork improving,” Carter said. “You can see him running towards a blocking point, which is a specific thing on a certain block. So he starts to have confidence in himself and to play faster and somehow freely, instead of sometimes being slow and methodical.
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One thing that probably helped Radunz play more freely is the fact that he spends most of his time at right tackle, the position he was drafted for.
Radunz spent most of his rookie season practicing guarding and tackling – both sides of the centre. His only start of 2021 actually came at left tackle, when he replaced the injured Taylor Lewan in Week 15.
“I think (focusing on one position) just gives him the opportunity to get comfortable and be in the same position every day, see things from the same side of the ball every day and stuff like that,” Carter said. “So it’s always important. But that’s a luxury you don’t have in this league until you’ve earned that starting job. You can only dress seven or eight linemen, so you need to be able to play in multiple positions. But I think it was beneficial to him.
Lewan, who began his Titans career as the team’s tackle, sympathized with Radunz’s rookie challenge.
“I think it’s common sense to know that the more you focus on one thing, the easier it will be on that one thing,” Lewan said. “When you have to spread your mind over four or five positions, it’s a very difficult thing to do.”
As tough as Radunz’s rookie season has been, he believes the experience gained will pay off.
He’s a year removed from his days as a small college left tackle, a year after learning what it takes to become the Titans’ starting right tackle.
Its increased comfort has allowed Radunz to hone his skills and tweak the details this offseason.
“A lot of it was just (physically) learning my body and the balance, how we run the ball here, stuff like that,” Radunz said. “Just being able to get my body to do new moves that I wasn’t quite used to was huge, and obviously switching sides. I mean, it’s like you’re left-handed and then you become right-handed. So just being able to do that, physically, just getting my body used to it.
Radunz said he was still far from perfect, but felt “much more confident” physically and mentally than he did a year ago.
The Titans are ready to see the upgraded version of Radunz displayed – full speed ahead – when the beatings begin in July.
“He’s progressing as we had hoped,” Carter said. “We’re excited, but we still have to put some pads on and play real football. But he does a good job. »