Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan skips mandatory minicampThe Associated Press — By TERESA M. WALKER - AP Pro Football Writer
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee left tackle Taylor Lewan is skipping the Titans' mandatory minicamp while his agents negotiate a new contract for the two-time Pro Bowl lineman.
Titans general manager Jon Robinson said in a statement Tuesday just before the team started a three-day minicamp that Lewan's representatives told the team he would not be attending.
"We have had several constructive conversations over the last 5-6 weeks about his contract status," Robinson said in his statement. "He is currently under contract, and we are working to keep Taylor as part of this organization for a long time."
Lewan, who turns 27 in July, is younger than Nate Solder who became the league's highest-paid offensive lineman in March with a four-year, $62 million deal from the New York Giants . Lewan is under contract for 2018 after the Titans picked up his fifth-year option paying him $9.34 million this season.
The Titans drafted Lewan at No. 11 overall in 2014 out of Michigan, and he has started every game the past two seasons in being selected to consecutive Pro Bowls. He has started 53 of his 58 games played with the 6-foot-7, 309-pound Lewan a key piece in protecting quarterback Marcus Mariota.
First-year head coach Mike Vrabel, himself a former NFL player, said he is confident in Robinson and the front office to handle contracts.
"I understand that there sometimes becomes issues with those, so I think that they're best handled internally," Vrabel said.
Lewan had taken part in most of the team's offseason program, and he also helped the Titans unveil their redesigned uniforms in April. But he wasn't at a photo session Monday, and the Titans announced Lewan wouldn't be at minicamp minutes before the first practice started Tuesday.
Kevin Pamphile, a free agent signee this March, replaced Lewan in the lineup at left tackle. Dennis Kelly has been at right tackle with Jack Conklin recovering after tearing his left ACL in the Titans' playoff loss at New England. Pamphile signed with the Titans in part for an opportunity and from getting to know Robinson while in Tampa Bay.
"You've got to take advantage of every rep you get whoever's across the line," Pamphile said. "Opportunity and competition that remains the key for our offensive line, want to make sure we're all competing and getting better each day."
Lewan, a Pro Bowl left tackle, told reporters May 30 that he was letting his agent handle negotiations for a new contract and that any talks with the Titans to that point were nothing worth talking about.
Lewan, who believes he's the NFL's best left tackle, certainly noticed Solder's "awesome" contract.
"There are a lot of things I do well and a lot of things I can improve upon as a football player," Lewan said on May 30.
"But for me, if I don't walk on the field and think I'm the best player in the NFL every time I step on the field, then I'm doing something wrong."
Four-time Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Orakpo isn't worried about Lewan not being at this minicamp.
"I love Lewan, I respect every decision he makes, and one thing about Lewan whether he's right here right now or whether I see him Week 1, he's going to be ready to go," Orakpo said.
"So hopefully they'll get that situated. That's out of my control. But knowing Lewan if it gets done Saturday before the game Week 1, he'll be ready to go."
Linebacker Kevin Dodd, the No. 33 pick overall in 2016, had stayed away from the offseason program until Tuesday when he faced a fine. He literally ran away from reporters trying to talk to him after practice. Vrabel said he didn't talk to Dodd, only asked him to do what the coaches have asked all the other players to do.
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Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker