Shaun Phillips had by all accounts a pretty productive season as a defensive end with the Broncos last year.

In their 4-3 defense he piled up 10 sacks — the third-highest total of his career — and added 35 tackles, five pass break-ups and a pair of forced fumbles for a Super Bowl team.

Nevertheless, Phillips believes the hybrid 3-4 system the Titans are switching to this season is a better scheme, both for himself and for teams in general in today's offense-oriented NFL. That's why the 11th-year pro is looking forward to returning to his more familiar linebacker position, and to the role he held for many years with the Chargers.

"Me personally, I like the 3-4 because I like to think I'm a smart player," the 32 year-old Phillips said. "And when you're standing up (at linebacker), you can see more, so I can assess the situation, see what's coming and how it's attacking me.

"Another advantage of playing the 3-4 to me is that you put another athlete on the field, so you've got four linebackers as opposed to four down linemen."

Phillips certainly compiled some big numbers as a 3-4 linebacker with the Chargers, most recently in 2012 when he totaled 9.5 sacks. But if you go by Pro Football Focus numbers, he was actually more effective as a 4-3 defensive end in Denver last year than as a 3-4 linebacker in San Diego the previous season.

PFF gave Phillips a 5.6 overall grade last season for the Broncos, including a strong 11.6 score against the run. His overall grade in 2012 was a minus-16.2, which included a minus-11.3 against the run.

Still, there appears little doubt the NFL — which tends to operate in cycles — is going more and more to the 3-4 these days.

"I remember when I came out (in the 2004 draft), there were probably four or five 3-4 teams," Phillips said. "Now it's 20-something teams that run the 3-4. It is because you need another athlete on the field. You need another dynamic pass rusher or a dynamic playmaker that can drop in coverage."

Phillips wasn't trying to slight his 300-pound, down-linemen teammates, however.

"Those guys are athletic in themselves," Phillips said. "But I want the 250- to 275-pound athlete, personally, and using the 3-4 gives you that opportunity."

Phillips won't get an argument from offensive tackle Michael Roos, who said 3-4 defenses can be very difficult to prepare for. He's glad the Titans will be operating a 3-4 this year because it will give the offense more practice against it.