The fact that Kevin Byard is a student of the game is already well-known around Saint Thomas Sports Park.
Byard, entering just his third NFL season, was an All-Pro last year with eight interceptions for the Tennessee Titans after being a third-round pick in 2016 out of nearby Middle Tennessee.
With his eagerness to learn and his preparation, Byard quickly became a favorite of venerable defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, as Byard readily absorbed his teachings and philosophies of defense.
Then, in the off-season when new head coach Mike Vrabel coaxed Dean Pees out of his brief retirement, it provided another resource for Byard to draw from. During OTAs, Pees marveled that Byard had studied ahead several pages in the new playbook, going over things in his mind and asking questions about things that the Titans were still days away from installing into the defense.
There has been another aspect of Byard’s ability to learn and ask questions. The former MTSU star has not been shy in asking Pees, who tutored Ed Reed in Baltimore, on the techniques and tips that the former Ravens safety employed on his way to what soon will be a Hall of Fame career. Byard did the same thing under LeBeau, in asking how Troy Polamalu played the position.
“He talks about it in film a lot of times. It’s crazy, being coached by two legends,” Byard said. “Just sitting in the coaching room with Dean Pees, he’ll pull up film of plays we’re trying to do right now, and say, ‘This is how Ed Reed would do it. He changed it up a little bit. He did these things at practice.’ Just to have that in my locker and in my corner, that’s a blessing, because Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu are guys I looked up to when I first started playing the position.”