Tennessee Titans safety Rodney Clemons is excited to compete for a spot on the final roster. An SMU alumni, Clemons holds the Mustangs’ all-time record for the most appearances after playing in a staggering 54 games. The Titans appreciate the way the Mustangs prepare their athletes for the league. Clemons joins the likes of Hayden Howerton and Reggie Roberson Jr. as young Titans trying to make their mark at the next level.
Clemons recently spoke exclusively with Broadway Sports regarding his first impression of the Titans, reuniting with former collegiate teammates, which teammates he’s developed excellent relationships with throughout organized team activities, his favorite aspect of playing the safety position, and so much more.
JM: The majority of your first two seasons in the league were spent as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs. You then signed with the Titans towards the end of last season. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned on your journey?
RC: I’ve learned how to be a professional first and foremost. I understand what it takes to stay in this league. I’ve played with some incredible players such as Tyrann Mathieu and Juan Thornhill. Those guys in Kansas City taught me how to be a professional. You have to showcase a terrific work ethic. You have to stay in your playbook as well.
JM: As an SMU alum, you saw some familiar faces at organized team activities (OTAs). What was it like reuniting with Hayden Howerton and Reggie Roberson Jr.?
RC: Reggie Roberson is a great friend of mine. We used to hang out in college all the time. Funny story, Hayden Howerton and I actually used to play against each other in high school. I’ve been playing with, or against Howerton for like seven years now from high school to college and now to the pro’s (laughs). This dates back to 2014. I’ve known Howerton for a long time. We grew up in the same town in Texas. You forgot to mention Justin Lawler, who’s another SMU alum that’s with the Titans. Lawler was at SMU during my freshman and sophomore seasons. Reconnecting with all three of those guys has been special. We worked hard together in college, and now we’re doing the same thing at the NFL level. It’s pretty special. It’s always great to have familiar faces around you.
JM: That’s incredible. What was your biggest takeaway from OTAs and your first impression of the 2022 Titans?
RC: It’s a great team first and foremost. There’s a lot of competition at every spot. I’m just trying to carve out a role for myself as we speak. Whether that’s on defense or special teams, I’m ready to put my best foot forward and compete. I’m trying to find that role. I want to make Nashville my home. Any way I can contribute, whatever the coaches need me to do, I’m going to do it with a smile on my face. The Titans are a great organization. They’ve had a winning season every single year for as long as I can remember now. They’ve established themselves as one of the elite NFL teams. We’re always in the playoffs. I’m searching for how I can contribute and help us get to a Super Bowl.
JM: That’s the right attitude to have. What are you hoping to prove to the coaching staff over these next two months? I know you’re excited to battle for a roster spot.
RC: I really just want the coaches to know I’m a reliable player. They can count on me to do my job. They can trust me. I hope it never happens, but if somebody goes down with an injury mid-game or whatever, we all know injuries are a part of the game. If I need to step up and fill a spot, I want the coaches to know I can perform in that role with no drop-off from the player that was in that position before me. I want to prove to the staff that I can do whatever’s needed of me. I’m working to gain the trust of this staff.
JM: That makes a lot of sense. Is there a defensive back or two that you’ve really connected with during practices and what not?
RC: The whole group was extremely welcoming. I got close with pretty much everybody. It didn’t matter if it was veterans, guys who just signed here, incoming rookies, or whatever. Everybody was on the same page pretty much immediately. That’s the culture that’s been built here. Guys like KB [Kevin Byard], Amani Hooker and A.J. Moore were very welcoming. I get along with everybody. It’s a close-knit position room. We hang out outside of football. I went to my first Nashville Predators hockey game with some of the guys (laughs). I can’t single anybody out. The entire group is very friendly and welcoming. We’re a family. You don’t always get that in the NFL. It really feels that way in Nashville. I’m really enjoying that aspect of it.
JM: That’s so terrific to hear. What’s your favorite aspect of playing the safety position?
RC: I really enjoy playing in the middle of the field. I love playing as the deep-man in a Cover 1 or Cover 3 look. That allows me to read the quarterback and use my instincts to go make a play on the ball. I love playing in the box and tackling as well. I really just love playing the safety position in general. I’m a football player that loves playing football at the end of the day. This has always been my passion. Wherever I can play on the field, I love doing it.
JM: I know you’re still learning the system, but how do you feel this system and scheme suits your skill set?
RC: It fits me well. We run a good mix of defenses. Our coaches have been amazing throughout this process. They’ve helped me learn the scheme in such an efficient manner. They’ve taught me the fundamentals of the techniques necessary to play at the highest level imaginable within the structure of our defense. All I have to do on my end is apply those teaching points now. If I can do that, I have a good chance to make an impact here while proving my worth.
JM: We’re so excited for you to receive that opportunity. We’ve appreciated your time today. In closing, what are your goals as we approach training camp here in a few days?
RC: My No. 1 goal is to master the playbook first and foremost. That comes first. My body feels great. I don’t have any athletic limitations. I’m in excellent shape and I’m ready to play fast and compete. Mastering that playbook will help me get my play speed to the desired level. I want to know the ins and outs of this defense. If I know every part of the defense, if I understand what the linebackers and defensive line are doing, that’ll help me play fast and physically. I want to master this playbook this season. That’s the goal heading into training camp. Doing that will help me show what I’m capable of.