Titans' new pass rusher Arden Key relies on more than bend

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Among the Titans' biggest additions to their defense, it would be great if Arden Key was the highest impact.

Tennessee Titans linebacker Arden Key (49) runs during an OTA practice at Ascension Saint Thomas Sports Park in Nashville, Tenn., Wednesday, May 31, 2023.
Arden Key/ © Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK

He will take over for Bud Dupree, playing opposite Harold Landry. In the Mike Vrabel era, the team has been at its best when the front four has generated consistent pressure on its own. If Landry, back from an ACL repair, and Key can do that in combination with Jeffery Simmons and Denico Autry in between them, the Titans will be in prime position to impact games defensively.

At 6-foot-5, 240-pound, Key matches Autry’s height and but it is the lightest of the four. Watching him at work, his length is striking, especially with his long arms.

Terrell Williams called him Gumby.

It seems crazy, however, to imagine him playing snaps as a defensive tackle, though he fits in the Titans’ new push for versatility. They are looking forward to occasions where they can line him up inside as well as on the edge.

“You don’t have to be big when you can run around people,” Terrell Williams said. “I think understanding who he is and what his skill set is huge for us. He’s been great for us so far. You don’t have to be a big guy to rush inside. You’re not running down the middle of guys, you’re beating guys on the edge, so his skill set will fit in well with what we are trying to do.”

Said Key: “I bring a lot because I can play all throughout, all over the defensive line. You can rush me outside, you can rush me inside. If you’ve got injuries, you can move me inside and not miss a beat.”

Pro Football Focus says Key has aligned on or inside the offensive tackle or further inside about 21 percent of the time in his career.

As for the bend that should be the quality that sets him apart among Tennessee's pass rushers, he emphasizes that people should not overlook what sets up its possibilities. 

"I like the bend, I love the bend,” he said. “But it’s all predicated on my power. I do a lot of things off my power so the edge can open up for my bend.”

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