Talk about bad breaks.
Eric King had worked hard and waited patiently for his chance at regular playing time with the Tennessee Titans.
When it finally came, King excelled in a key Titans’ victory over the New York Jets last season, supplanting Vincent Fuller at nickelback and recording five solo tackles, including a key stop of Thomas Jones for a loss to stop a Jets’ drive in the 10-6 victory.
But no sooner had King established himself when his bad break came — a broken wrist suffered in the game that not only ended his 2007 season a week early, but also kept him out of the playoffs and required surgery to repair.
Now, King, who had worked his way into the nickel, is back trying to climb the depth chart again.
Fuller is back working as the first-team nickel and would appear to have a solid grip on the job, leaving King as the dimeback for the time being as the Titans work their way through organized team activities.
King admits he thinks about what he had accomplished and what might have been, had he not broken the wrist.
“It was frustrating. It was something that was on my mind throughout the offseason, but I just try to take it and put it into a positive light and use that energy to continue to work hard, because I know my capabilities and I know what I’m capable of,” King said.
Though Fuller has the job the Titans consider their 12th defensive starter, King is poised to try and make another run up the depth chart in training camp. King knows it won’t be an easy climb.
“There’s always an opportunity. One thing about our team — our defensive secondary is very, very thick,” King said. “We have some tremendous defensive backs in our secondary. I worked hard and got all the way up to fifth defensive back last season, but in order to take somebody’s job, you’re going to have to compete very, very hard.”
The Titans first obtained King off waivers from Buffalo just before the start of the 2006 season. He started life as a Titan on special teams and at the bottom of the depth chart. By last season, he was getting noticed not only for his special teams work, which remains a strength, but also his coverage and tackling skills as a defensive back. The coaching staff took notice.
“Eric was real solid for us last year on special teams,” Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. “He’s great in the classroom and great to be around. He’s a hard worker, a real pro. He wants to be on the field and he earned the right to be on the field in the nickel last year, and we’ll see where it goes this year.”
King knows there are no promises come training camp, but he also has established himself to the point where he should get a fair shot if he plays well.
“Most of our jobs are always open to competition and we want to put our best players on the field,” defensive backs coach Chuck Cecil said. “Eric has definitely shown he can play that position, and it’s going to be a real good competition between him and Vinny. Vinny is the incumbent. He’s got the upper hand, so Eric is going to have to beat him out.”
King, who had 11 special teams tackles a year ago, takes nothing for granted as he heads into his fourth NFL training camp.
“I’m going to go out there and give it all I have and continue to compete hard, because that’s all I know,” King said.