TBT: Catching Up with Wesley Woodyard

In honor of Throwback Thursday, we talk to former Broncos LB Wesley Woodyard, who spent six seasons battling the Chargers in the AFC West. In true throwback fashion, we chat about several former Chargers, including Ken Whisenhunt, Shaun Phillips and Charlie Whitehurst.

Wesley Woodyard began his NFL career in Denver, joining the team as an undrafted rookie in 2008. He spent six years with the Broncos, starting 40 of 87 games and piling up 300 tackles, eight sacks, five interceptions and six forced fumbles.

In 2012, he became just the 12th player in league history to record at least 100 tackles, five sacks and three INTs in the same season.

In 2013, Woodyard suffered a stinger and fell out of Denver's rotation as the Broncos marched to the Super Bowl. After the season, when he became a free agent, he opted to join Ken Whisenhunt in Tennessee.

"Coach Whiz is the true definition of a players' coach," Woodyard said. "He wants the best for us and puts us in the best situation to be ready and prepared on the football field. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to get those wins to reward him like we should have. He's a good football coach who believes in us and wants to win. And most importantly, we respect him because he is who he is. He's not trying to be anyone else other than Coach Whiz."

While the Titans have struggled to a 1-3 start, Woodyard has continued his high level of play, averaging seven tackles per game. He intercepted Andrew Luck in last week's loss to the Colts, and he sacked Alex Smith as the Titans knocked off the Chiefs in Week 1.

Woodyard is joined on the Titans defense by another 'backer Chargers fans are familiar with: Shaun Phillips. Like Woodyard, Phillips left Denver for Tennessee last offseason.

"He's a good leader," said Woodyard of Phillips. "He's been a productive guy in this league for 10-plus years. He's a very smart guy and he knows what's going on on there. It's always good to have a guy on the field who knows what the heck is going on."

Last week's Titans-Colts game even more of a “where are they now?” feel for Chargers fans. With QB Jake Locker out with a wrist injury, Charlie Whitehurst got the starting nod. Philip Rivers' former backup completed 12 of 23 passes for 177 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He also ran five times for 40 yards.

The Colts blew out the Titans, 41-17, but Woodyard believes Whitehurst did his part.

"He did good," said Woodyard of Whitehurst. "We have to do a better job of putting him in a better position to make the game easier. Any time someone's not the starter and they come in you have to help him out. I think Charlie did a good job of throwing the football and trying to make plays. As a defense, we have to do a better job getting off the field and helping our offense out."

While Woodyard's new team is having some quarterback troubles, his former team is still in the very capable hands of Peyton Manning, who is on the brink of throwing his 500th career touchdown pass (he currently sits at 499).

Manning is off to another terrific start this season, throwing eight touchdowns against just one interception. Manning, Rivers and Luck are considered the early favorites in the MVP race. So, which one of the elite QBs gets Woodyard's vote?

"I definitely can't give it to Luck, being that he's in our division and we play against them. That's something I can't agree on," he said. "Philip Rivers is one of my favorite QBs to play against, but I'm going to have to go with my old guy, I'm going to have to go with Peyton. I know what kind of leader he is out there on the field, so I'm going to have to give it to Peyton."



Can Woodyard and the Titans turn things around? Discuss in the message boards.



Michael Lombardo is a long-time contributor to the Scout.com team. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 18 years and covered the team since '03. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.


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