Shane Bowen is the Titans outside linebackers coach by title, but what’s his role actually?

Erik Bacharach
Nashville Tennessean

On a Zoom conference call Friday, Shane Bowen fielded questions from reporters about the Titans’ nickel cornerback situation, the team’s defensive line and calling plays for the defense.

Not exactly the typical line of questioning posed to an outside linebackers coach.

But Bowen won’t exactly be a typical OLB coach for the Titans this season. Former defensive coordinator Dean Pees retired after the 2019 season, and coach Mike Vrabel opted to finalize his staff without filling the role.

On Tuesday, Vrabel, who looks poised to assume the brunt of the defensive-coordinating responsibility, said: “When I'm not in front of the defense, Shane Bowen will be that voice. When I'm not in the defensive meeting with the coaches, that will be Shane running it.”

Bowen, 33, was asked about being “that voice."

“Ultimately, my job, first and foremost, is to get these outside linebackers to play at a high level and develop them and continue to make sure they’re doing what they’re supposed to do,” Bowen said. “But Mike’s got a lot on his plate, so he needs somebody to help him out. And I’ve been with him a long time.”

Vrabel and Bowen were first on the same coaching staff in 2012, when Vrabel was the Ohio State defensive line coach and Bowen was a graduate assistant. Bowen then overlapped with Vrabel in Houston when he was a Texans’ defensive assistant before Vrabel brought him to Nashville in 2018 to be his outside linebackers coach.

“I think I’m an extension of him when it comes to our defense and what he expects, and what he wants,” Bowen said. “I think that’s where his confidence and comfort level comes from with me, just because we’ve been around with each other for awhile now.”

But what about defensive play-calling? The answer to that question is still being worked out, according to Vrabel and Bowen.

"I would imagine that as we continue to work through practices and the unscripted environment, we'll come up with ways to make calls," Vrabel said. "Whether I make them or whether Shane makes them, we're going to work through that process as we get through practice."

As the Titans go through COVID-19 testing and a conditioning period at Saint Thomas Sports Park, they're leading up to their first training camp practice on Aug. 14.

"As we progress into practice and there’s some (offense versus defense) unscripted periods, I think (play-calling is) something me and Vrabes will start to kind of work through and see where things are at," Bowen said. "Ultimately, I’m an extension of Mike when he’s not around. So however that ends up playing out, we’ll just have to see as we kind of work through it here once we get out there and get in some of these competitive situations where we actually have to call some things that aren’t scripted."

Reach Erik Bacharach at ebacharach@tennessean.com and on Twitter @ErikBacharach.