Before training camp began, Tennessee Titans defensive lineman Jurrell Casey made news in London by saying he would simply take the fine for protesting the anthem.
Casey, who has raised his fist along with other Titans teammates at the end of the anthem last season, instead offered a salute at the conclusion of Saturday’s performance by singer Savannah Maddison before the Titans’ 30-14 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Casey said it was a move back to what he had done before anthem protest became an issue in the NFL, and hopes to take a different avenue toward bringing awareness to social injustice causes.
“Before I started raising my fist, I did the salute,” Casey said in the Titans locker room Saturday night. “Right now, we’re working on things to get things moving on the social injustice platform. I’m trying to make sure I use my platform the right way and find different ways we can use this platform in a better way. Not necessarily just as a protest but also helping the community out and trying to find solutions that we can get involved with using the platform.”
Casey, who has never taken a knee during the anthem, has been involved in social causes for sometime now. He and his wife Ryann, who is an attorney, have been involved in helping people who have been incarcerated transition back into society after their release from prison.
Casey, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, at the start of camp clarified his stance on the anthem protests at the start of camp.
“Me and my wife will continue to work in the community and do what we do, and that is bring light to social injustice,” Casey said at the beginning of training camp. “That’s what we’re all about. We’ll continue spreading the word.”
Learning by doing?
The Titans are tied with the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles with five lowering the helmet penalties through two preseason games thus far.
The Titans had two more penalties Saturday night vs. Tampa Bay after being penalized three times last week against Green Bay.
Kenny Vaccaro and Nick Williams were hit with the fouls, with Williams’ penalty coming on a special teams play.
“You saw the one on the sideline with Kenny. He’s coming a long distance. Evans made a great catch, and Kenny has to do a better job of making sure he’s not leading with the crown of his helmet. We have to practice that and have to show him how to do it properly and still be able to come over and disrupt the pass and break it up,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. “Nick Williams, I’m not really sure if he made contact. He was in a linear position, which they’re trying to eliminate from the game, but may or may not have made contact.”
Vrabel admits that with new rules it is much harder to play defense now than when he was a player just a few years ago, but that they must adapt and adjust.
“I think that playing defense is difficult, because the athletes are really good. The passing game you can only hit them at five yards. They’re looking at that pretty closely,” Vrabel said. “That’s a point of emphasis. Our job is to go out and stop them and legally defend them, rush the quarterback and defend them. We need to improve in a lot of areas. Whether it’s hard or perceived as being hard, I don’t think that matters as far as improvement.”
Rookie Harold Landry did not have a sack in Saturday’s game vs. the Bucs as he did in week on against Green Bay, but he did disrupt on one rush enough to have a penalty called that nullified a Tampa Bay touchdown. The Bucs eventually settled for a field goal, so the penalty saved Tennessee four points.
Still, the second-round pick was not overly satisfied with his performance.
“It was a decent play, but I feel like the time that I was out there for, I could have done more to impact the game,” Landry said. “There is definitely room for improvement. I think I’m making strides every day, but as far as impacting this particular game, I felt that I could have done more.”