Titans Position Spotlight: Running Back


Midway through the 2015, the Tennessee Titans had arguably the least flashy backfield in the NFL. Bishop Sankey was fighting to just average 2.0 yards per carry while cast off from Cleveland, Terrance West was still getting familiar Tennessee’s offense.

Running back was expected to be a position addressed early in the 2016 Draft process, but it is now in question if the Titans will even need to use a pick on a back.

The current five-man depth chart is one that can be described as a group with tons of potential.

DeMarco Murray

The Titans made one of the biggest splashes of the off-season when they struck a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles for running back DeMarco Murray. Murray is two years removed from his breakout season with the Dallas Cowboys that saw him run for over 1,800 yards and become an elite running back. Murray is coming from a “bad” situation in Philadelphia where his use as a player in Chip Kelly’s scheme and overall team chemistry were constantly questioned. At age 28, Murray is relatively young and saved miles on his legs by sharing carries with Ryan Matthews last year.

Nov 15, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back DeMarco Murray (29) pushes away Miami Dolphins outside linebacker Koa Misi (55) during the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. The Dolphins won 20-19. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

The most encouraging part is Murray and his agent were instructed by the Eagles to find a possible trade partner on their own. A lot of options were open but Murray chose Tennessee.

Antonio Andrews

Andrews made the most of his opportunity in 2015. With not many other options to go to, the Titans handed the bulk of the carries to the third year back out of Western Kentucky. The shifty Andrews, at 5’10”, proved hard to tackle and complemented Marcus Mariota in the passing game as well. Andrews finished the season leading the team in rushing with 520 yards and had 174 yards according to Espn.com statistics. Andrews averaged over four yards per game in four of the last six games to close out 2015 and gives the Titans a flex back to go along with inside the tackle runner DeMarco Murray.

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David Cobb

With the addition of Murray and the emergence of Andrews, Cobb’s role is expected to be reduced to situation based, and it could be blessing in disguise. Coming off a tough nightmare rookie season in which Cobb tore his ACL, recovery time will be the most important.

Aug 14, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Tennessee Titans running back David Cobb (23) runs against Atlanta Falcons safety Akeem King (28) in the third quarter of their preseason NFL football game at Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports /

A similar power runner to Murray, Cobb will have a mentor he can learn from. Immediately after being drafted in the fifth round of the last years draft, hype grew that Cobb could be the steal of the draft for the Titans. Many enthusiasts of the pick in 2015 have now become skeptics, although the Titans are not giving up on Cobb just yet.

Dexter McCluster

McCluster is one of the most interesting talents in the NFL as he can line up as a running back or receiver on any down and provides the Titans an explosive weapon every time he touches the ball, including on punt returns. Expect McCluster to get no more than 10 touches per game, as he is a change of pace back. With an increased number of play makers on the offense, McCluster’s athleticism use could become more vital in play calling in the future. His speed and athleticism.

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Bishop Sankey

Time will tell if Sankey will be a part of the crowded Titans backfield. Sankey was given the starting job to start 2015, and started the season with a bang, scoring 2 touchdowns and running for 74 yards rushing in Week 1. Although, his production steadily dropped off and later missed five games due to injury. The Titans have put a lot of patience in the hope Sankey would develop into the solid NFL caliber running back they had envisioned when they picked him in the second round in 2014.