It was not love at first sight.
That might be the easiest way to describe the early stages of the relationship between Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan and his offensive line coach, Keith Carter.
Truth be told, it’s pretty easy to see – in retrospect – why the two took to one another like beer and firecrackers.
On the one side was the brash Lewan, who – in 2018, when Carter came aboard as part of Mike Vrabel’s staff – was feeling pretty good about himself.
Just 26 years old at the time, Lewan was coming off a second straight Pro Bowl appearance, and the Titans were coming off their first playoff victory in 15 years. Much of the reason the team had produced back-to-back winning records had been Lewan and the offensive line. The group had helped DeMarco Murray pile up nearly 2,000 rushing yards during that stretch, while allowing just 28 sacks in 2016, 35 in 2017.
So why fix what wasn’t broke?
Lewan had thrived under his former offensive line coach, Hall of Famer – and former “Hog” – Russ Grimm, who brought a low-key, laid-back leadership style to his position.
“Just kind of a relaxed guy, chillin’ all the time,” Lewan said of Grimm. “Maybe has a beer at 9 in the morning kind of dude, relaxing.”
It would have been difficult to find a more polar opposite for Grimm than Carter, a tightly wound, hyper-focused bundle of energy, whose playing career as a tight end had come to an end at UCLA in 2003 – the result of a motorcycle accident that left him with a fractured and dislocated right hip.