NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Titans safety Kevin Byard was back at the facility for the start of mandatory minicamp on Tuesday after missing the voluntary portion of OTAs.
Byard’s absence at all voluntary portions of OTAs was intriguing given how he was asked to take a pay cut back in April and refused. He spoke to the media on Thursday for the first time during the offseason and offered an explanation for his missed time.
“I had already talked to the coaches about training on my own and doing my own thing,” Byard said. “There was never any doubt from the coaches on my end that I was going to be here for minicamp and be the same player I’ve always been.”
The Titans asked Byard to take a reduction from his salary which includes a $13.6 million base and $19.6 million cap hit this season. Byard said not attending OTAs had nothing to do with being asked to take a pay cut and that it was his plan long before any of that came into the picture.
The eighth-year veteran wanted to build on the offseason training that started soon after the Super Bowl.
“Usually, when you come into April, they kind of take things back a little bit cause guys are just returning,” Byard said. “But I was already full speed going and I didn’t want to change that.”
Byard was very comfortable with defensive coordinator Shane Bowen’s scheme which he’s played in over the last four seasons. That along with having spent the past five seasons with coach Mike Vrabel made Byard secure about not being at the facility for OTAs.
Most of his training was in Nashville with Jeremy Holt of Athlete Performance and other NFL defensive backs including teammate Roger McCreary. Byard was also in contact with the coaching staff and on Zoom meetings with the other defensive backs.
Now that he’s back in the building, Byard said he appreciates the energy new defensive backs coach Chris Harris brings both in meetings and on the field. Titans players said Byard’s presence was felt immediately when he returned for minicamp.
New linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair referred to Byard’s return as “a breath of fresh air.”