NASHVILLE, Tenn. (June 19, 2007) -- For at least one day, LenDale White sounded as if he had finally gotten the message the Tennessee Titans have been trying to send the running back since he dropped to them in the 2006 draft.
"You've just got to take care of your body. You've go to do everything right. You've got to come back in camp and be in shape and you know, just ready to play football at all times. It is what it is," White said.
He couldn't have said it better if the Titans had prepared his statement.
White had just finished a minicamp practice featuring the return of Chris Brown -- a veteran who seemed destined to never return to the Titans after disappearing last season.
However, Brown had few opportunities elsewhere, and his presence provides insurance for a team that has been waiting for White to run like the "Thunder" they saw at Southern California.
"You know you've got to learn from this experience and hopefully next year, things will be way different," White said.
If White had learned that lesson while still in college, questions about his weight gain and hamstring injury might not have dropped him to the 45th pick overall in 2006 after being projected as a potential top 15 selection.
And if White had learned that last season while watching Travis Henry run for 1,211 yards, he might not have ballooned up to 260 pounds before the offseason program started in March.
Also, the Titans might not have needed to draft Chris Henry or bring back Brown, the four-year veteran who went from starter to playing in only five games in 2006.
But White said he and Chris Henry had been expecting a veteran to be added and that he welcomed the competition.
"I think me and Chris could've got it done, but the addition of Chris Brown helps us out a lot better," White said.
Veterans welcomed Brown back as a reassuring move for an offense that ranked fifth in the NFL in rushing last season with Travis Henry's performance.
"I think it puts the whole team in a better frame now we have a proven running back there, a veteran guy," center Kevin Mawae said. "Whether he becomes the No. 1 guy or not is yet to be determined. he definitely gives the younger guys, Chris and LenDale, something to strive to be like."
Brown, who asked to be traded before training camp last year, is back on a one-year deal with lots of incentives.
He never sold his home here, and coach Jeff Fisher said they stayed in touch with their third-round pick in 2003 who rushed for 1,067 yards in 2004. Brown said the Titans' interest in him picked up two months ago.
"I've got a chip on my shoulder. I've got a lot to prove," Brown said.
Fisher said no guarantees have been made and that all three running backs have been told the competition for the starting job is wide open.
When the Titans open at Jacksonville on Sept. 9, White plans on being the starter in the backfield with Vince Young. That would be his first NFL start after playing in 13 games as a rookie with 61 carries for 244 yards -- a 4.0-yard average -- and no touchdowns.
It easily qualifies as perhaps his worst season after a college career where he had 541 carries for 3,159 yards and 52 touchdowns.
"I came here to be the best. I want to be the best. I want to start. I want to play every down, and I'm pretty sure the other guys are thinking the same thing. I'm going to do everything in my power to go out there and be that guy," White said.