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Dennis Kelly Steps in, Plays Well for Ejected Taylor Lewan

Posted Nov 13, 2016

Dennis Kelly steps in and plays well for ejected Titans LT Taylor Lewan in Tennessee's 47-25 victory over the Packers.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Taylor Lewan wasn’t making any excuses, and Titans coach Mike Mularkey wasn’t making any excuses for his starting left tackle either.
 
Lewan was ejected from Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers for making contact with an official.
 
Lewan appeared to push the arm of an official in the middle of a first-quarter confrontation with Packers defensive lineman Letroy Guion, who was penalized for a late hit on Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota.
 
“I think it’s the right call,’’ Mularkey said. “(Taylor) should not have been where he was. I don’t care whose hands he thought he was swatting down, he should not have been in that area. He should have been back in the huddle. And he will be in the huddle. No excuses, he shouldn’t have been in there.”
 
In Lewan’s absence, Kelly emerged as one of the unsung heroes in Tennessee’s 47-25 win over the Packers.
 
“I love the way Dennis Kelly played for this football team today,’’ Mularkey said. “They’ve got some guys outside that are a threat and I thought he did an unbelievable job stepping in there. (General Manager) Jon Robinson getting him here with that trade was as big a trade as we had this year. He played well.”
 
The Titans acquired the 6-foot-8, 321-pound Kelly in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles back in August for receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. Kelly played in the team’s first nine games, including three starts when the team lined up with an extra tight end to start games. In previous games, he’s stepped in to play some tackle, and played a big role on special teams.
 
And then on Sunday he found himself entering the game on the team’s third offensive play after Lewan was ejected. Kelly stepped in at left tackle, and the Titans didn’t skip a beat on offense.
 
Lewan passed Kelly on the way to the sideline.
 
“(Taylor said) 'Go get it,’’ Kelly recalled. “It was pretty much go in there and do your job.”
 
Kelly did just that. The Titans dominated the Packers from beginning to end as quarterback Marcus Mariota threw for 295 yards and four touchdowns, and running back DeMarco Murray ran for 123 of the team’s 162 yards on the ground.
 
Mariota was sacked twice, with both coming in the second half.
 
“You have to be ready,’’ Kelly said. “It’s a good thing when I am not needed because it means everyone else is healthy and playing well, but you have to go in prepared for a situation like that. I think that is why they traded for me, to be that guy who can go in.”
 
Mariota praised Kelly, and so did Lewan, who watched the remainder of the game from the locker room.
 
“I told Dennis to play as hard as you can, and I said 'I’m sorry,'” Lewan said. “I didn’t know I was kicked out until I was kicked out and that is brutal. It is a hard feeling.
 
“My biggest thing is I didn’t know it was the ref (I made contact with). I was looking at the (Green Bay) guy and I was in the guy’s face and I felt hands on my chest and I felt a resistance and I swiped his hands off. It wasn’t meant in a malicious way, it was to tell him how wrong he was for (hitting Mariota).”
 
Lewan said he felt “a complete feeling of deflation” when he learned he was ejected. He said he’ll always come to the aid of Mariota, who said he told Lewan he “appreciated it.”
 
“There have been a lot of flags flown in the NFL and it sucks to be at the end of that as I have been in the past,” Lewan said. “I am never going to apologize for playing with passion and (protecting my quarterback). I will apologize for costing this team, and I think Dennis did an amazing job coming in and holding his own and playing at a high level against a high level team.
 
“I am proud of him and a proud of this team, and I really wish I was more a part of the win.”