Countdown to training camp is now at 35 days when the Tennessee Titans’ rookies and veterans report for the official start of the 2017-18 season. In our last installment we previewed the quarterback position. Today we take a look at the running backs.
DeMarco Murray was one of the biggest offseason acquisitions in all of football in 2016, resurrecting a once-proud rushing attack that had fallen on tough times after the departure of Chris Johnson.
Murray led the AFC in rushing last season and will once again spearhead Tennessee’s exotic smash mouth approach this year. Offseason surgery on his hand should not be a concern for Titans fans as he vowed to be 100% for the start of camp.
In fact, Murray talked to the media two weeks ago and stated that he would have played if the procedure occurred during the regular season.
The real intrigue for this group will be the utilization of the players behind Murray on the depth chart, and training camp could provide some clues on how the carries will be divvied up this season.
Derrick Henry will enter his second season like he ended his first…firmly planted behind Murray. But after averaging 4.5 yards per carry in limited action the former Heisman winner will be looking for more opportunities.
There are two trains of thought here.
On one hand, if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it. While Murray is knocking on 30’s door, he has shown no signs of wearing down and has given the coaching staff no visual evidence to cut back his workload.
On the other hand, Murray is knocking on 30’s door. Looking long-term you have to think about maximizing the few prime years he has left…and you have a young stud that is equally bruising and equally capable of carrying a heavy workload.
A good problem to have to say the least.
With Thunder and Thunder set to do the heavy lifting again this fall, keep an eye out on 7th round pick Khalfani Muhammad who provides the perfect offset to their downhill style.
Muhammad recorded the fastest 40 time of all the rookie running backs (4.34) and has already impressed his teammates during rookie camp and OTAs.
Also a prolific receiver and return man while at the University of California, Mohammad could / should be used in a myriad of ways this season if he secures a roster spot.
Last but not least, we all know that head coach Mike Mularkey loves his exotic gadget plays, and Muhammad’s blazing speed and versatility makes him the perfect candidate to expand that part of the playbook.
A player that can impact a game in a multitude of ways with few touches. A Darren Sproles type of game changer if you will.
The Titans finished third in rushing last season (2,187 yards) and with the major players back on the offensive line and backfield, I fully expect them to finish higher than that this season.
Next up…the wide receivers.