Donnie Nickey is the longest tenured Tennessee Titan, having been with the team since being a fifth-round pick in 2003.
But that doesn't mean he hasn't stopped learning.
Now, Nickey is learning something new – how to play linebacker, something he said he has not done since he was a 170-pound sophomore at Jonathan Alder High School in Ohio.
The long-time backup safety and special teams player has been going to the Titans linebacker meeting room the past couple of weeks and is learning how to play outside linebacker.
“I love it. A safety is pass first and secondary run support. Linebacker is run first and secondary pass support. It plays more to my strengths, and it's a lot of fun being down in the mix every play,” Nickey said. “I've been going to the linebacker room for a couple of weeks.”
Nickey, 6-3 226, said he doesn't know yet if the move is permanent or not, but he is doing it to give himself more versatility in order make himself a better player and more valuable as a role player.
“I'm just learning. I knew where they were supposed to be in relation to a safety, like where the exact gap fits. It just makes me a smarter player overall,” Nickey said.
Nickey said the Titans approached him with the idea duringthe week leading up to the season opener when starting linebacker Will Witherspoon was out of practice because of the death of his mother. Nickey practiced that week as an extra linebacker, and the seed was planted.
“It was really for the first week when Will was going through his stuff. It was just natural. I know what both safeties do. I know how the back end fits, so it's more like being a down safety,” Nickey said.