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Rookie DT Klug Getting Productive Playtime Early on for Titans

Posted Sep 20, 2011

Klug capped his preseason by recording two sacks, one for a safety, and two quarterback hurries against the New Orleans Saints.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Karl Klug weighs 70 pounds more than his identical twin Kevin.

People, Karl said during a recent interview, don’t tell a lot of twin jokes when the brothers are together. They do, however, ask Kevin why he’s “so skinny,” which flusters the lighter Klug.

Two pounds once separated the brothers when Kevin played fullback and blocked for Karl, who played running back and defensive end for their high school team in Minnesota. Kevin continued his career at Minnesota State University, Mankato, and Karl enrolled in Iowa.

Karl redshirted his first year (2006) at Iowa. He suffered a foot injury before the 2007 season, costing him all but one game that year, but he didn’t quit. Karl hit the weights and began bulking up before returning to the field and playing in 12 games at defensive tackle. By his senior year he had gone from 207 pounds to 270.

Protein shakes and late-night meals helped Karl gain weight during his years at Iowa, where he started each game during his final two seasons and earned high praise for his energy and output, although he was still comparatively undersized for most defensive tackles.

Karl, who is listed at 275, said maintaining his weight during Tennessee’s training camp was tough, with two-a-day practice sessions and high temperatures. He said he’s continued the protein shakes but he doesn’t track calories daily.

“I just eat as much as I can, and when I’m full, I try and eat a little bit more,” Klug said.

Titans scouts liked what Klug did with effort and technique. He recorded 26 tackles for loss and 9.5 quarterback sacks in his final two years of college when he earned All-Big Ten honors.

Tennessee tried to reach Klug when they decided to draft him, but the call didn’t go through to his phone in Iowa. The Titans then called Kevin, who was with Karl at the time, and the good news was relayed.  

“My brother passed the phone over to me,” Karl explained. “He thought someone was screwing with him. He was in the middle of a text.”

The Titans made an offseason commitment to rebuild their defense, and selected Klug in the fifth round, and defensive tackles Jurrell Casey (300 pounds) in the third round and Zach Clayton (299 pounds) in the seventh round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Klug, Casey and Clayton each received ample reps at practice and snaps during the Titans’ preseason games.

“We got a lot of opportunities to get on the field,” Klug said. “I feel like it was a good experience.”

Klug earned a start in Tennessee’s first preseason game against his favorite childhood team, the Minnesota Vikings. He recorded three tackles and a quarterback hurry against Donovan McNabb. Klug had a tackle for loss and quarterback hurry against the Chicago Bears, and capped his preseason by recording two sacks, one for a safety, and two quarterback hurries against the New Orleans Saints.

“That was pretty exciting, I guess, but it was just one play,” Klug said of the safety. “You can’t focus too much on one play. You’ve got to be consistent throughout the game. Any time you can put points on the board on defense, that’s usually pretty good but it’s a team effort. It’s not like I was the only one that did that. If it wasn’t for the secondary, that sack wouldn’t have even happened. It’s all a team effort.”

Klug, Casey and Clayton all earned spots on Tennessee’s 53-man roster. Klug said the day that rosters were finalized was “kind of weird” because he was so accustomed to starting and finishing college seasons with the same people in the locker room.

“You see all these guys, get to know them for a couple of weeks and now they’re gone,” he said, “but I’m starting to learn that’s the nature of this business. … You can be on the chopping block any day.”

Klug made his NFL debut in Tennessee’s season opener at Jacksonville and recorded four tackles, including one for a loss.

New Titans defensive line coach Tracy Rocker said Klug makes up for his lack of size by understanding leverage, a key principal in defensive line play.

“A lot of times when you’re playing defensive line you want big people,” Rocker said during the preseason, “but you can have big people and they don’t understand leverage. He understands leverage and that’s a testament to him. I’m proud of what he’s doing.”

Klug said he will try to use technique and quickness against offensive linemen who think they have a mismatch in their favor.

“I’m assuming they’re probably licking their chops when they see my skinny (butt),” Klug said.

What opposing offensive linemen are learning, however, is that Klug has skills and maneuvers that he learned during his three-year prep wrestling career. He knows how to use an opponent’s momentum against the foe.

“I think that’s helped me out a lot,” Klug said. “Even though that was in high school, I still think that’s helped me up to this point as far as being aggressive with your hands, understanding leverage and playing underneath the guy. In wrestling, you are constantly in an athletic stance. You have bent knees. That’s how you want to play football — you don’t want to stand straight-legged.”

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