Familiar faces make Fitzpatrick more comfortable about fresh start with Titans

Monday, March 25, 2013 at 9:42pm

Ryan Fitzpatrick never has seen the sights of Nashville.

When he settles into the Tennessee Titans’ locker room, though, he will see a few familiar faces.

The team’s new backup quarterback is one of three former Buffalo Bills who joined the Titans as free agents this offseason. The first was safety George Wilson, who was released in February and agreed to terms with Tennessee prior to the start of free agency. Then came guard Andy Levitre, who finalized his deal less than hour into the signing period.

“That’s a great thing,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’m going to be able to feel comfortable right away, I think. … Those were two of my favorite teammates in Buffalo. So those two moves, I thought, were very important in terms of bringing guys that are good, quality guys that will bring leadership to a team. Those are two of the best that the Bills had to offer and two guys I respect a lot.”

Fitzpatrick was released March 12 and agreed to terms with the Titans six days later. Monday he was in town for the first time and signed the contract.

He had lunch with offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains and was scheduled to have dinner with Loggains and quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone.

“April 22 is the start up date for all the offseason stuff — I’ll be here for all that,” Fitzpatrick said. “But there’s some logistical stuff I have to get worked out. … We’ll figure all of that stuff out.”

Outside of a game or two as an opposing player during his seven-year NFL career, he never has spent time here. After he was cut, he met with Titans’ officials as well as those from other teams during the league meetings in Arizona, where he and his family, which includes four young children, has an offseason residence.

“That was a nice coincidence,” he said. “It was convenient for me to be able to go to the hotel out there in Phoenix and meet with a few teams and not have to get on an airplane or anything and leave the family. … That was nice to be able to sit down, to talk to some teams where you feel wanted that [that] they respect the work you’ve done the last few years.”

He spent the last four seasons with Buffalo and started 52 of the 55 games he played for that Fitzpatrick. He also spent two seasons each with Cincinnati and St. Louis, which drafted him in the seventh round in 2005.

His career record as starter is 23-41-1, and he has no illusions about why he is with Tennessee. His job is to be a backup and a veteran sounding board for Jake Locker, the third-year player who became Tennessee’s starting quarterback last fall.

“You have to swallow you pride a little bit,” he said. “I thought Buffalo was the best chance for me to start next season and it just didn’t work out. When that relationship ended I knew I was probably going to be looking at a backup role.

“I’m a competitor. I want to be out there helping the team win on Sundays but it’s also the reality of the situation right now, which is they’ve got a ton of confidence and faith in [Locker] here. My role and what they have signed me to do is to help him out and to push him and to be ready just in case.”

Plus, he’ll have to settle into different surroundings.

“It’s a new adventure,” he said. “This is my fourth team now. I think everywhere we’ve been we’ve liked a little bit more than the last place. Buffalo was a place that will always kind of be close to our hearts just with the people we met there and all that.

“So hopefully this brings bigger and better things.”

1 Comment on this post:

By: courier37027 on 3/26/13 at 10:52

Please, I hope this works better than the Yancey Thigpen experiment of years ago. Thigpen was Neil O'Donnell's teammate in Pittsburgh. A Tennessee reunion was a well-meaning concept turned nightmare.