Earnest Byner spent 14 years playing in the NFL, and now hopes that some of that will rub off on the Tennessee Titans running backs.
Byner was officially introduced as the team’s new running backs coach at the conclusion of the news conference announcing Jake Scott’s signing on Monday.
Byner, who spent time with the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens and Washington Redskins as a player, takes over for Sherman Smith, who left the franchise after 13 seasons to become offensive coordinator for the Redskins.
Byner comes to Nashville after having previously coached in Washington and Baltimore. He said he had a brief conversation with running back LenDale White and looks forward to working with the Titans running back.
“LenDale and Chris [Henry] are both young backs,” Byner said. “They came out and both were second-round picks. They’ve got some potential. I’m sure Sherm did a good job of training them early on, and I’m looking forward to stepping in. We’ve got a veteran staff. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Jeff [Fisher] and how things are run here. I’m grateful for the opportunity.”
He said he likes what he has seen of White thus far and wants to help him improve.
“Some of it is going to be really on what LenDale wants to improve on,” Byner said. “I’ve watched him, and I like some of the vision that he has, some yards after contact, he protects the ball well when he gets in a pile.
“I’d like to talk to LenDale and see what some of his goals are and how I can best assist him in that process. They say guys don’t care what you know until they know you care. I want them to know that I care about them personally, first and foremost, but I want the best for them on the football field as well.”
SCOTT SIGNS: Guard Jake Scott is the latest defection from the Indianapolis Colts to head south down I-65 to Nashville, and on Monday was introduced as the newest Titan.
Scott, who agreed to four-year deal reportedly worth close to $20 million, joins David Thornton and Nick Harper as current Titans who are former Colts, while the likes of Gilbert Gardner, Ben Hartsock and briefly Corey Simon all managed to pass through the Titans’ locker room as well.
“I tried in the time between the end of the season and the start of free agency, I asked everybody I could – not just with the Titans, but everybody I knew – about different teams and organizations and who liked what organization or coaches or cities,” Scott said. “It seemed like everybody I talked to that had been here or is here loved being here. It was very promising just to hear that stuff.”
Scott’s agent, Ken Staninger, said the Titans were an early and attractive target for his client, who also considered Denver and Houston before settling on Tennessee.
“Tennessee figured out that Jake was the right fit for them after losing [Jacob] Bell,” Staninger said. “I think they probably felt that this was really a good fit for them, and as we saw free agency develop, it was clear that Tennessee was a great fit for us.”
Where Scott fits with the Titans isn’t exactly clear yet. Tennessee lost left guard Bell to the St. Louis Rams in free agency, and Benji Olson is expected to retire before the upcoming season.
“We’ll in due time decide what side he plays, left or right,” Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. “He’s actually played a little bit on the left side earlier in his career. He’s very, very good on the right. We’ll just kind of sort those things out.”
Scott said he will fit in wherever he is needed, as the Titans also have Eugene Amano and Leroy Harris available.
“It’s never been a big issue for me to move from one position to another,” Scott said. “Throughout college I played both sides. We played on a line where we flipped sides, so I played both right and left going through college. And I played a little bit of left guard while I’ve been in Indy. To me, it just really isn’t much of an issue.”
Like Olson, Scott prides himself on durability, as he had started 55 consecutive games for the Colts.
“I think that is really attractive,” Titans general manager Mike Reinfeldt said. “He is consistent and to be able to do that and stay healthy, that is a tough thing to do.”
Scott, originally a fifth-round pick from Idaho in 2004, said another selling point in Tennessee was the chance to work for Titans offensive line coach Mike Munchak.
“It is always great to play for a good coach,” Scott said. “The guys I have talked to, I have talked to Kevin Mawae, and the guys that played for him love playing for him. He has a great reputation as an offensive line coach. … You get to play for a guy who is a Hall of Famer. He played, I believe, 15 years, so you get to draw on all that experience that he has.”