Tennessee Titans: Who joins the rb committee?
By P. L. Colter
Minicamp is currently underway for the Tennessee Titans, and fans are eager to get an up close and personal look at the new faces in town.
Especially DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, this year’s co-starting running backs.
One of the most intriguing story lines this fall will be the ball distribution between the two.
But behind the scenes, there is an intriguing position battle to keep an eye on this summer, and that is the battle to join “Thunder and Thunder” in the Titans’ running back rotation.
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Tennessee was one of the worst rushing teams in the league in 2015 (25th), but it was not for a lack of trying. The Titans gave five different running backs a chance to be the lead dog last season, but no one emerged.
Four of them return this season, and this time around they will be fighting for a roster spot.
The Good: He was the most productive of all of the backs last season, leading the Titans in attempts (143), yards (520), and touchdowns (3). He also led the team in explosive runs with four of 20 yards or more. Andrews is a decent receiver out of the backfield as well, averaging 8.3 yards per catch.
The Bad: Although he is a capable receiver, his pass blocking leaves much to be desired. He also plays a similar style to Murray and Henry, who are both physical downhill runners. There would be no change of pace and little creative flexibility for the Titans with Andrews as their number 3.
The Good: Let’s face it, the higher a player is drafted…the more rope a team is willing to give him. After two dismal campaigns, Sankey, a 2014 second round pick, may be able to squeeze one more roster spot out of that. He is reliable in the passing game though, leading all Titans running backs with 9.9 yards per reception last season.
The Bad: Where do we start? His lost confidence? Inability to press through a hole? Atrocious special teams play? I should digress.
The Good: He has the confidence of head coach Mike Mularkey, who immediately named him a team captain when he was promoted to interim coach last November. McCluster also led the team in yards per carry (4.5), an impressive feat given his small stature. He’s a shifty change of pace option to Murray and Henry, and has also been a good receiver and special teams player throughout his career.
The Bad: The Titans’ new ground and pound approach isn’t the best offense for his skill set. May best be used in the “gadget play arena”, which are few and far between in today’s NFL.
The Good: Runs with a purpose, presses the hole, and get’s everything that he can out of every attempt.
The Bad: Getting everything that he could equated to 2.8 yards per carry last season, a team low for Titans running backs. Health was also a concern for Cobb last season, who started camp injured and never got into a rhythm all season. And as a 5th round pick last year, he will not be given as much rope.
What a difference a year makes for Andrews, Sankey, McCluster, and Cobb. This time last year they were all being evaluated on their physical skills, with the hope of being the Titans’ primary ball carrier.
This summer they will be flexing their survival skills.