For three years now, Blidi Wreh-Wilson has been one of the most maligned players on the Tennessee Titans roster.
In fact, one play by the 2013 third-round pick two years ago became the symbolic portrait of the franchise’s failures in recent years. It was the play in Cincinnati where Wreh-Wilson had a choice on a trick play by the Bengals, a wide receiver pass back to quarterback Andy Dalton.
Wreh-Wilson could wait back and intercept the wobbly pass from Mohamed Sanu, which probably would have been a pick-six; or he could wait for the ball to get to Dalton and take a free shot at the Bengals quarterback without any repercussions or penalties.
Instead, Wreh-Wilson got caught in between and indecisive. The floating football landed in Dalton’s hands for a Cincinnati touchdown, and Wreh-Wilson seemingly became cursed to many times surrendering big plays in subsequent situations after that.
Entering the final year of his rookie contract,Wreh-Wilson finds himself in an uphill fight just to keep his roster spot with the Titans. But the fourth-year cornerback has bought into the “fresh start” new coach Mike Mularkey offered returning players, and the result has been a more confident and improved player in the first week of training camp.
“I wouldn’t say I doubted myself. I just think there were some obstacles I had to overcome in my career, and I didn’t really know how to handle them at the time,” Wreh-Wilson said. “It was a lot that just happened in a short amount of time and some things I had to bounce back from. Coming into this year, I just tried to put that behind me and continue moving forward.”
Wreh-Wilson seems intent on making the most of that forgiveness.
“Blidi’s made some plays out here. He made a really good play on a fade throw to Justin Hunter (on Friday),” Mularkey said. “Those are things he needs to keep doing. He’s made some big plays out here. I was happy to see that. Our defense was excited about it and rallied around him.”
Wreh-Wilson has taken the whole “fresh start” approach to heart, though that fresh start comes with the added competition of four new cornerbacks in camp, plus all the same cast from last year sans Coty Sensabaugh. Wreh-Wilson welcomes the competition.
“In our room we have a lot of competition and a lot of guys that have played a lot of football,” he said. “Understanding a fresh start and understanding what’s going on around here, everyone is just trying to bring the best in each other. Day in and day out, I’m just doing what I can to get better every day.”
Teammate Jason McCourty said he spoke to Wilson a lot about refining his technique and to find out what works best for him.
“Me and him talk a lot in the off-season of just trying to fine tune technique as what works for you and what doesn’t work for you. I think now he has a good understanding of what works for his body type and how he should be playing it from a press technique,” McCourty said. “He’s really worked a lot this off-season on playing the ball down the field, running and looking late. For him, it’s going into year four, so it has to start to click. He’s taking it very personal and putting his best foot forward.”
For Wreh-Wilson, fighting to hold on to his roster spot, every day and every play is a challenge for him. It’s still a work in progress, but it is progress nonetheless.
For the most part in the off-season I just made sure that I got back to work and tried to make sure I was doing something to try to continue to get better,” he said. “You want competition. This league is all about that. Anytime you get a chance to go against some better and get their best shot, that’s what you want. I feel like every day has been a progression. I feel like there are still some things I need to improve on, but I like where I’m at right now.”