NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tye Smith waited his turn, and when called on in a bigger role in recent games, he’s delivered for the Titans.
The unheralded cornerback from Towson played all 69 snaps while starting against the Rams, and he was on the field for 53 of 63 snaps in Sunday’s playoff-clinching win over the Jaguars.
When the Titans needed a lift with injuries in the secondary, Smith has provided it with solid play.
“It’s everything the guy deserves,” Titans cornerback Logan Ryan said of Smith. “You’ve seen it in the preseason – he wears his heart on his sleeve for his teammates. He lays his body on the line. I’ll take a guy like that and play with that guy.
“That’s what makes secondaries great, and that’s what makes defenses great – guys who are willing to sacrifice for one another. It’s not about big-name players, guys that make a lot of money. It’s about guys who are willing to sacrifice.”
Smith (6-0, 195) joined the Titans as a free agent last January, and he spent the offseason and training camp with the team. He made the roster out of camp, and has played in 15 of 16 games for the Titans this season.
But until recently, the majority of Smith’s snaps came on special teams.
Smith had six tackles against the Rams, and four more stops against the Jaguars on a day when the Titans held quarterback Blake Bortles to a just 158 passing yards while completing just 15-of-34 throws. His passer rating was just 33.7 against the Titans.
Smith, a fifth round draft pick of the Seahawks in the 2015 NFL Draft who has spent time with the Redskins as well, said he’s happy to be in the mix. He was called into action after injuries to LeShaun Sims and Ryan, who returned on Sunday after missing the previous week’s game against the Rams with an ankle injury. Sims was placed on IR last month.
Smith had an interception earlier this season in a game against the Dolphins while playing in packagers with extra defensive backs.
“It is great to be a part of a team going to the playoffs, a team that hasn’t been in years,” Smith said. “My first year being here, and helping contribute to a playoff run, it’s been great. I just want to do my part.
“My mindset was: ‘All the extra work I put in was finally paying off.’ I was prepared for the moment, and coaches and players helped me prepare for the moment.”
The Titans face the Chiefs on Saturday in the first round of the playoffs.
“The big thing for me (on Sunday) was laying it on the line for guys like Derrick Morgan and Jurrell Casey, guys who have been here for years and never seen the playoffs, and helping get them to the playoffs,” Smith said.
“Now we just want to keep it going.”