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Hungry LB Jayon Brown making impact for Titans in Year 2

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Titans DC Dean Pees feels Jayon Brown has really matured as a (0:49)

Titans DC Dean Pees feels Jayon Brown has really matured as a pro. Video by Turron Davenport (0:49)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Jayon Brown is quietly having an outstanding season for the Tennessee Titans.

Through nine games, the second-year pass-rusher leads the Titans with 4.5 sacks. A fifth-round draft choice in 2017, Brown's sack total leads all inside linebackers. He also ranks second on the Titans with 13 quarterback pressures and is tied for second with five tackles for a loss.

The early NFL success for Brown is a bit different from his previous stops at Long Beach Poly Tech High School and UCLA, where he learned to be patient and keep putting the work in until it was his turn to shine.

"I had a good base around me with my brothers, my dad, my whole family telling me to keep working and things paved out for me," Brown said. "At Poly, riding the bench until my senior year. Then at UCLA, I didn't play until my junior year, but I made the most out of it.

"After getting drafted in the fifth round, playing right away surprised me, but I am making the most out of my opportunities and I am just going to keep growing."

Football runs in Brown's family. His younger brother, Joshua, is a linebacker at the University of Arizona, and his two older brothers also played college football. Jason played linebacker at Idaho, and Juwuan was a defensive lineman at Southern Oregon.

This week, Brown and the Titans' defense have to slow down the Indianapolis Colts (1 p.m. ET Sunday, CBS). Head coach Frank Reich has the Colts' offense firing on all cylinders, averaging 28.9 points per game. Reich complimented the Titans' defense for how "multiple" it is with its fronts, blitzes and coverages. He also praised Brown and veteran linebacker Wesley Woodyard for making plays all over the field while still playing with discipline.

The discipline and aggressiveness that Brown plays with is the result of an increased hunger to be great after working out with former UCLA and current Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Kenny Clark. In the process, he met Packers linebacker Clay Matthews, Jacksonville Jaguars defensive lineman Malik Jackson and San Francisco 49ers linebacker Malcolm Smith. Those interactions were a game-changer for Brown.

"I got everybody's input, picking their brain and trying out new things," he said. "I developed an even bigger hunger this offseason going into my second year. I just wanted to ball super hard and elevate my game by improving on everything that I didn't capitalize on during my rookie year."

Brown's favorite team growing up was the Philadelphia Eagles because he liked watching Brian Dawkins. He listed Ray Lewis, Willie McGinest, Troy Polamalu, Brian Urlacher and Ed Reed as other players he loved to watch. The passion that Brown plays with is no coincidence given how the players mentioned above took the field with such enthusiasm.

Brown's 4.5 sacks have mostly resulted from being sent on interior gap blitzes, but he's also rushing from the outside. After posting 1.5 sacks as a rookie, he says giving maximum effort is the reason for his jump in production.

"What clicked is just me not giving up," he said. "On my rushes, I am not just coming free instantly. Pass-rushing and sacks, it's all about that motor going even when you're blocked. You have to keep your legs going, and you'll end up free. When the quarterback is right there, grab him and bring him down."

Brown will have to harness that high motor and play with more craftiness if he has to face Colts guard Quenton Nelson. Indy's rookie first-round pick, listed at 6-foot-5, 330 pounds, might try to blow up the undersized Brown (6-0, 226) like he did when he wiped out Jaguars safety Barry Church last week. Taking on a human dump truck like Nelson will be tough for Brown, but he knows how to attack him.

"You have to switch it up on him," Brown said. "Sometimes you come down and hit him, but the next time you make a move on him. Keep him guessing, but do it the right way where it's not hurting your team."

No matter who the opponent is, Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees knows he'll get a great effort from Brown.

"From the time that I have gotten here until now, he has matured as a professional," Pees said. "He's studying. Early on, I probably could have asked him questions and he might not have had an answer. Now he actually asks the questions. That's becoming a pro. I credit Mike [Vrabel] for a lot of that. He really pushed him hard early on. Jayon has taken to coaching and done a great job."