Ranking the best Tennessee Titans running backs of all time

Nov 14, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson (28) is pursued by Indianapolis Colts safety LaRon Landry (30) on a 30-yard touchdown run in the first quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 14, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson (28) is pursued by Indianapolis Colts safety LaRon Landry (30) on a 30-yard touchdown run in the first quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Ranking the five best Tennessee Titans running backs to ever grace the two-tone blue since the team became the Titans in 1999.

The NFL is currently in a bit of a dead period in terms of news and action. Teams, including the Tennessee Titans, are going through OTAs. They’re taking things slow and all the news that comes out during this time of year are usually puff pieces about standouts in practices.

While we bring you plenty of notes from Titans OTAs, this period allows us to travel back in time and look at the franchise’s past. First up, we brought you the quarterbacks. Up next in a series of the best Titans players at every position are the running backs.

NOTE: These lists will only feature players that played for the team since they became the Titans in 1999.

5. DeMarco Murray (2016-present)

Murray really only needs to play one or two more seasons to shoot up this list. His first season in Nashville was a massive success, as he led the AFC in rushing, caught 53 passes, totaled 1,664 yards and scored 12 touchdowns. The fact that he’s already on this list at No. 5 shows both how poor the crop of Titans running backs has been since 1999 and how talented Murray is. Let’s hope he can stay healthy as he closes in on age 30.

4. LenDale White (2006-2009)

A USC legend for his role in the college’s National Championship win in 2005, White wasn’t considered a can’t-miss prospect due to his limited athleticism. He dropped to the mid-second round in 2006, where the Titans snatched him up and brought him along slowly. He didn’t play much in his rookie season, but broke out in his sophomore campaign to the tune of 1,110 yards and seven touchdowns. In 2008, with the arrival of electric rookie Chris Johnson, the duo formed “Smash and Dash” and took the league by storm with their contrasting running styles. White brutalized defenders and scored 15 rushing touchdowns, good for third in the league.

White carried the load in the Titans’ 2008 playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens after Johnson couldn’t return with an injury, but he couldn’t get much going against a stout defense. He ended up losing a lot of weight the following offseason, and was rendered a non-factor as CJ2K’s legend was born in the midst of a 2,000 yard season. White was traded to the Seattle Seahawks during the 2010 offseason, got released and then tore his achilles in a preseason game with the Denver Broncos. He never appeared in another football game since.

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3. Chris Brown (2003-2007)

A third-round pick out of Colorado in 2003, Brown backed up Eddie George in his final season with the Titans. At 6-3, 219lbs, Brown wasn’t exactly a change-of-pace guy, but his bruising style fit the Titans’ smashmouth mold. Brown showed a lot of promise over the next two seasons, starting 25 games and racking up 1,918 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. He even showed off some receiving ability in 2005, catching 25 passes for 327 yards and two touchdowns.

Brown’s career ended up being marred by injuries. His career 4.3 yards per carry average with the Titans shows how good he was and how great he could’ve been if his body cooperated. A fine running back in two-tone blue from 2003-2007.

2. Eddie George (1996-2003)

Many would expect George to come in first on a list like this, and it was very close, but he just gets edged out by his polar opposite in two-tone blue. Simply put, George was the epitome of Tennessee Titans football. The 14th overall pick in the 1996 draft, George never missed a game throughout his eight-year Titans/Oilers career. Up until the Oilers became the Titans in 1999, George had averaged 1,353.67 rushing yards per season and found the end zone 19 times on the ground through his first three years. His production didn’t stop, as he helped the Titans reach the Super Bowl during the 1999 season. The season after was easily his best one, as he ran for 1,509 yards and 14 touchdowns, and even caught 50 passes for 453 yards and two touchdowns in 2000.

The only drawback with George was the need for him to get an absurd amount of carries to get going. George’s lowest carry total in a season was 312, a mark Johnson surpassed just twice in his career. His highest was a whopping 403 in 2000, which helped him put up a career year. George was great, but it’s hard to overlook his career 3.7 yards per carry average in his eight years with the Titans/Oilers. His final three seasons (ypc averages of 3.0, 3.4, 3.3), in particular, hurt his case for No. 1 on this list.

1. Chris Johnson (2008-2013)

This might be controversial to some fans, but I don’t think it is when you truly realize how great Johnson was. Johnson missed just one game (his rookie year) during his entire Titans tenure, proving a type of durable that isn’t found in running backs of his size. In addition to not missing games, Johnson also didn’t miss 1,000 yard seasons. At a time in football where the passing game was increasingly emphasized, he cleared the 1,000 yard mark in each of his six seasons with the team. He also ran for 2,000 yards in a season, a feat accomplished only seven times in NFL history, while breaking Marshall Faulk‘s all-time NFL record of yards from scrimmage in a single season.

Over his six-year Titans career, he ended up running for 7,965 yards, catching 272 balls for 2,003 yards and totaling 58 touchdowns. All of that while averaging an incredible 4.6 yards per carry. Johnson’s play and production might’ve slipped after getting a massive contract in 2011, but if he had played as many years as George, he would’ve surpassed him in possibly every category. Regardless of your opinion on who is No. 1 or 2, both are Titans legends.

Honorable MentionsTravis Henry (only 14 games started), Bishop Sankey (only two seasons on team as a second round pick), Derrick Henry (only one year under his belt; talent is there to climb up the list)