Kearse agrees to terms, set to make return to Titans
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans agreed to terms on a multiyear contract with Jevon Kearse on Thursday, and coach Jeff Fisher said they plan to play the 31-year-old defensive end as much as possible.
The Titans had a hole at defensive end after losing free agents Antwan Odom and Travis LaBoy. On Thursday, they found at least one big replacement by bringing back Kearse to the team where he started his NFL career.
"Not only is this an opportunity to finish where he started, but he also has a lot left. This is not just a nostalgic thing to bring back the old days. He's here to fill a spot and to help us win football games and knock the passer down. We were very excited with the results of the physical and very excited to get things put together as quickly as we did," Fisher said.
Kearse was the Defensive Rookie of the Year after Tennessee made him the 16th overall pick in the 1999 draft. The Titans reached the Super Bowl that season.
He had 47½ sacks with the Titans and made three Pro Bowl teams, but left in 2004 for a free-agent deal with the Philadelphia Eagles during Tennessee's salary cap struggles and reached his second Super Bowl.
Minnesota had been trying to get Kearse onto a plane to visit the Vikings on Thursday. But Kearse said he kept reminding agent Drew Rosenhaus how much he really likes Tennessee, where he will be reunited with assistant coach Jim Washburn.
"I feel at home right here," Kearse said.
Kearse never achieved the success with the Eagles that he did in Tennessee, totaling just 22 sacks and suffering a knee injury that cost him much of the 2006 season. He was benched toward the end of the 2007 season and released as a salary cap cut last week.
He said he rushed himself back from the knee injury and tried to ignore how his knee felt.
"I really feel good physically," he said.
The Titans still plan to add help at defensive end. But Kearse will find himself lining up opposite Pro Bowl end Kyle Vanden Bosch with All-Pro tackle Albert Haynesworth in the middle. Kearse said he is looking forward to changing from Philadelphia's read-and-react style defense back to a style that allows him to simply chase the ball.
"If they're doubling those guys, I have no choice but to do what I have to do and that's get to the quarterback. If that happens, then they have to figure out who are they going to double today and at that point, you have to pick your poison," Kearse said.
He will be back in No. 90, which he wore during his first stint with the Titans. The No. 93 jersey that Kearse wore in Philadelphia is being worn by Vanden Bosch. Kearse joked that he thought about taking No. 10 -- the number worn by quarterback Vince Young.
"They came up with No. 90. They said it was an old number that was just sitting around. It's going to be 90. It's good. It feels good on me. It feels different than 93 I think," Kearse said.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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