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New Titans LB Daren Bates glad to be back in Tennessee

Posted Mar 14, 2017

New Titans linebacker Daren Bates said it takes a different mentality to excel on special teams. He's ready to go "crazy" with the Titans.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Daren Bates grew up in Memphis, and went to his first NFL game in Nashville when his father took him to see the Titans.

He was little then, and didn’t know much about the game.

Fast-forward to last week, when Titans general manager Jon Robinson called him on the phone. Bates was four years into his NFL career, with 60 games under his belt, with the Rams and Raiders.

“First thing he said was, ‘I want to get you back in Tennessee,’” Bates said of Robinson. “He knew I was from Memphis, and of course we talked about barbeque. We talked about high school, really Tennessee stuff. And that kind of warmed me up.”

Something else really got Bates fired up: Robinson complimenting him on his game. The two hit it off, and it’s one of the big reasons Bates is now a Titan. He signed a deal with the Titans last week, and the linebacker will be counted on to play a big role on special teams and possibly some in the defense this fall.

“I like to hear people say: ‘He’s tough. He has attitude. He plays aggressive. He has his teammates back,’” Bates said. “What Jon Robinson said about me and how he likes the way I play, it makes me smile. For other people to see what I am doing, it makes me excited. Hopefully I can get Titans fans to feed off of me and my energy and what I bring to the team.”

Bates played in 16 games last season with the Raiders, where he posted 12 tackles and was a key contributor on special teams. Prior to that, Bates played three seasons with the Rams.

Bates, who went to Auburn, played three seasons in high school at Christian Brothers in Memphis, and he was a two-time all-state performer at safety. He played his final high school season at Olive Branch in Mississippi.

Bates initially signed by the Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2013. He’s one of three key special teams performers to reach a deal with the Titans since the start of free agency, joining another former Oakland Raider, safety Brynden Trawick, and former Falcons returner Eric Weems.

“I like his intensity,” Robinson said. “I like his instincts and his reckless abandon to throw himself in there to make a play.”

Bates (5-11, 225) has played in 60 games in his NFL career, and totaled 37 tackles. He’s played a big role on special teams during his four seasons.

Bates played three seasons in high school at Christian Brothers in Memphis, and he was a two-time all-state performer at safety. He played his final high school season at Olive Branch in Mississippi.

While with the Rams, Bates made some spectacular plays on special teams.

In 2013, Bates returned a fumbled kickoff return for a touchdown against the Texans. In 2014, he leaped over the long-snapper in a game against the Giants and blocked the kick. He was named a captain with the Rams in 2015.

He was a key player on Oakland’s special teams units last year.

“Bates is violent, and fast,’’ Robinson said.  “He really takes pride in being a factor or special teams. I like his intensity, like his instincts and his reckless abandon to throw himself in there to make a play.”

Bates freely admits he takes great pride in playing special teams.

“To me, you have to be a little ‘off’ (to do it),’’ Bates said with a smile. “You can’t be sensitive, you have to be violent. You have to be a different type player. You have to have a defensive player’s mindset, but just a little more off. I call it being crazy. You have to play with reckless abandon and be violent.”

His friends and family in West Tennessee are fired up to have him back in the state.

While with the Rams, Bates made some spectacular plays on special teams.

In 2013, Bates returned a fumbled kickoff return for a touchdown against the Texans. In 2014, he leaped over the long-snapper in a game against the Giants and blocked the kick. He was named a captain with the Rams in 2015.

He was a key player on Oakland’s special teams units last year.

“It is good to be back here,’’ Bates said. “I am humbled, and appreciative to be able to come back to Tennessee and play.

“And everybody is excited. Some people have talked about moving to Nashville to be closer to me. My dad is moving back to Memphis from Florida, so everybody has been hitting me up. Everyone is pumped.”