If you were to poll the casual football fan, and ask them who was the first running back taken in last year’s draft, few outside of Nashville could tell you Bishop Sankey.
Sankey, Tennessee’s second round pick out of Washington, underwhelmed in his 2014 rookie campaign….averaging 3.7 yards per carry…for a pedestrian 569 yards. He had just as many lost fumbles (2) as he had touchdowns, and failed to produce big plays (one run of 20 plus yards). But his most alarming stat was the paltry five first downs on the season.
Not a game…not a game…we’re talking about the season.
As unimpressive as his rookie year was, the blame cannot be totally placed on Sankey. For starters, all of Tennessee’s backs struggled behind that banged up and ineffective offensive line. The Titans were behind early and often, forcing the team to abandon the run. And when they did run, too many backs were in the rotation.
Regardless, Tennessee selected another rookie running back in this year’s draft, and immediately upon being drafted, David Cobb out of Minnesota was looked upon to not only steal carries from Sankey, but to challenge him for the starting job all together.
But as fate would have it, Bishop Sankey has been given a golden opportunity at a second chance.
Last year, Sankey’s late arrival to Nashville put him behind the eight ball. School commitments caused him to miss most of mini camp, and he never seemed to catch up…he never seemed comfortable all year long.
This season, it’s rookie rb David Cobb that’s behind the eight ball, as a hamstring injury has kept him off the field for the majority of mini camp. Veteran rb Shonn Greene decided to skip the voluntary portion of camp all together, leaving Sankey with the majority of the reps.
Oct 12, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans running back Bishop Sankey (20) carries the ball against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second half at LP Field. The Titans beat the Jaguars 16-14. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports
And it looks like he’s relishing the opportunity. Sankey’s comments to the Tennessean last week during OTAs…
“I’ve been able to kind of start from scratch, kind of take it one day at a time, and go with a slower pace. I definitely feel more comfortable with pass protection, initial reads with running plays and everything.”
Sankey also addressed head coach Ken Whisenhunt’s comments about his footwork and attention to detail…
“I feel more comfortable with the tracks [designed running lanes] and my footwork. Being here for OTAs, I’ve really been able to start from day one and go slow, learn another track each day. So I think it’s helped out a lot.”
Remember those five first downs all year? Sankey does, and plans to put on additional muscle this year to improve in that area. His quote….
“It’s mostly just about being durable throughout the year, and also getting those extra yards,” Sankey said. “Instead of one (extra) yard, it will be two or three yards with the extra weight, just by sheer momentum.”
With a whole offseason under his belt, the majority of the reps so far, and a huge learning curve lead over rookie David Cobb, Bishop Sankey finds himself in a prime position to entrench himself as the Titans lead bell cow this season.
He’s been given a second chance, but if he cannot separate himself from the pack this time around, then Sankey will have no one to blame but himself.