|NASHVILLE (AP) — Keith Bulluck heard from lots of friends following his three interceptions against the New Orleans Saints, the first multi-pick game of the Titans linebacker’s eight-year career. |
Of course, they all were happy. They also thought it was about time.
“People who’ve been watching me throughout my career know what I’m capable of. Maybe a lot of people around the country don’t,” Bulluck said Wednesday.
It’s not like Bulluck hasn’t had a strong career. A first-round draft pick in 2000 out of Syracuse, an All-Pro who went to the Pro Bowl in 2003, he’s led Tennessee in tackles the past five seasons.
But Bulluck has been patient in recent years, waiting for the Titans to finish rebuilding so he could once again play games that really matter with enough talent around him on defense to help him play his best.
The loquacious linebacker looked forward to the Titans’ first prime-time game since December 2004, and he predicted that Mr. Monday Night would show up in New Orleans and do something special.
That he did, becoming the first linebacker in franchise history to pick off three passes in a game and the first linebacker in the NFL with three interceptions in a game since Ronald McKinnon in 1998 with Arizona.
The performance earned him AFC defensive player of the week honors, the first in his career. He called that a great honor, but the man who keeps a picture of former teammate Steve McNair hoisting his MVP trophy taped in his locker wants more.
“I’ll take a defensive MVP award at the end of the year, which would be much better. But it’s a start,” Bulluck said.
The Titans’ drought hasn’t been easy on Bulluck, a bachelor who turned 30 in April. His rookie season was 2000, when Tennessee had the best record in the NFL, and he went to the playoffs three of his first four seasons.
Then the team ran out of space under the salary cap and started cutting expensive veterans. Bulluck quickly found himself as the most veteran player on defense, a player who leads best by example and with a verbal jab or two who was suddenly surrounded by NFL newcomers.
“There were times maybe I did feel as if I was a babysitter,” Bulluck said.
He tried to help cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones understand the importance of being in camp during Jones’ contract holdout in 2005 — only to be dissed by the then-rookie for not understanding the pressures of being a top draft pick.
Bulluck said he expects his fellow players to act like grown men, something some have shown they can’t do.
“My position as a leader of this team is to keep the locker room in check and get things going on the field. Off the field stuff like that, I just can’t deal with it,” Bulluck said.