The Tennessee Titans need a defensive lineman or two to step up during training camp and prove that they’re worthy of making the final roster. The departures of DaQuan Jones and Jack Crawford means that there are some snaps up for grabs. One of the players that is looking to take advantage of the opportunity is Woodrow Hamilton, a defensive tackle with plenty of NFL experience under his belt. Hamilton won Super Bowl LI with the New England Patriots, a game that will forever be remembered for its unlikely comeback. It was the finest moment of Hamilton’s career, not only for its accomplishment, but also for the lessons it taught him.
Now in Tennessee and ready to make an impact, Hamilton recently spoke exclusively with Broadway Sports about his NFL career up to this point, his tenure with the New England Patriots, and his first impression of the Titans and their coaching staff.
JM: You come to Tennessee after spending some time with New England, Carolina and New Orleans. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned during your NFL career?
WH: I’ve learned that you have to stay prepared. I’ve gone through some injuries in the past. Anybody that’s played in this league will tell you that you can’t waste an opportunity. I had to learn that as a young player. You have to stay ready all the time. When an opportunity presents itself, you have to be ready.
JM: You actually won Super Bowl LI as a member of the New England Patriots in your rookie season. That game will always be remembered for its crazy comeback and the “28-3” jokes that followed it. What’s your favorite memory from that game?
WH: I remember being on the sidelines during the second quarter. The game goes into the third quarter and we’re still losing. We’re trying to cheer guys on and keep their morale up. We all had a role to play. You have to make the best of the role that you’re playing. What stood out the most to me about that game was that nobody ever got down on themselves. If you’ve played football at any level, you know what it’s like to lose and to get beaten badly. I’ve played on teams where the demeanor changes you’re losing. Some people get upset and start to sulk. You always have real leaders that step up and try to make sure that you never blink in the face of adversity.
This particular game, nobody had to say anything at all. That team kept fighting and pushing. Not a single person on the field or sidelines was worried. That goes for both coaches and players. There was no state of panic. That stood out to me. It wasn’t shocking at the time because that’s how the New England Patriots carry themselves. I knew what it was when I got there. Nobody gave up. We never lost hope. We knew what we had to do and we never lost sight of that. Let’s go win it. Let’s keep fighting as a team. Nobody was arguing or blaming anybody. Everybody was together. That was a very unique time for me. It was my rookie year and it was just different. I was thankful to be a part of that.
JM: That’s a terrific story and memory. A lot is made between the similarities between the Patriots and Titans. Head coach Mike Vrabel played there for a long time. General manager Jon Robinson worked in the front office for many years. You’re still fairly new to Tennessee, but have you noticed any similarities between the two organizations?
WH: I have picked up on some similarities between the coaching staffs. The coaches in Tennessee are very honest with you. They know what they want and they aren’t going to compromise on that. They know how to coach the players. I’m not the one to judge coaches or anything like that, but that’s a big positive that I’ve witnessed first hand. That similarity between the two organizations comes to mind for me. As for me being new here, I can see how much they love to work. I don’t like pointing at other teams, but we all know that there are teams in the league that like to talk about hard work. We are putting in real work here. From the coaches all the way down to the players, everybody is putting their best foot forward. That is definitely something the Patriots and Titans have in common. It’s a great thing to be a part of.
The coaches are straight up when it comes to what they’re looking for. They want to help make us better. It’s up to us after that. As long as we follow what they’re telling us, we’re in a great position. This coaching staff knows what they’re doing. They know what it takes to win. That’s a great thing. It’s very similar to New England.
JM: That’s great. In your opinion, is your skill set more advanced as a pass rusher or as a run stopper?
WH: I’m from Mississippi. We have a saying that goes something like, “I’m trying to get in where I fit in.” It’s something the older people say. I’m trying to work my butt off in whatever area I can help the team in. I don’t want to be a specific player or anything like that. If the coaching staff needs a run stopper, if they tell me we have to stop the run, then that’s what I’m going to work on. If they say we need to step up and rush the passer, then that’s what I’ll be working on. I’m just trying to elevate my game in the areas that the Tennessee Titans need help in. On that subject, I will lean on the coaching staff. Coach Vrabel and his staff will guide me in the right direction. I’m always working on my craft. I’m trying to contribute and make the team.
JM: That’s an excellent point. Is there a teammate you’re excited about growing with at training camp?
WH: I’m excited for all of my teammates. It wouldn’t be a team effort if I started singling out individuals. I’m all about investing in the success of every player on the Titans. I want to see all of them succeed, even the ones some people may perceive as my competition or whatever. I want to help this defensive line play at a high level. There isn’t an individual more important than the team.
JM: I love that. Being a Mississippi guy, you must be excited to get to know Jeffery Simmons a bit more.
WH: Oh yeah, for sure (laughs). When you go to different places, you’ll always come across guys from back home, or guys you’ve played on other teams with. I’ll even recognize teammates I’ve played against in the past. That’s just automatic. I’m looking forward to seeing those guys and catching up with them. At the end of the day, I’m excited to play with everybody here.
JM: I’ve really appreciated your time today, Woodrow. In closing, what are your goals for the next few weeks?
WH: My personal goal is to be the best version of myself. However I can do that, however I can carve out a role for myself here, that’s the ultimate goal. I’m just trying to help this team be successful. That’s all I want. That’s my goal.