DeMarco Murray Shouldn’t Play During the Preseason


Pro Bowl RB DeMarco Murray will miss the Tennessee Titans’ preseason opener. He should miss the other three games as well.

Following Tuesday’s practice of 2017 Tennessee Titans Training Camp, head coach Mike Mularkey announced that Pro Bowl RB DeMarco Murray, who is currently dealing with a hamstring injury, will miss the team’s preseason opener against the New York Jets. If logic wins out, then Murray won’t miss just one preseason game.

The smartest option available to the Titans is to keep Murray sidelined for the entire preseason. Here are three reasons why that would be a wise idea.

In 2014, Murray won the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year award after piling up nearly 2,300 yards from scrimmage and 13 touchdowns as a member of the Dallas Cowboys. The prior year, he also broke the 1,000 rushing yards barrier, while averaging an astounding 5.2 yards per carry.

Last season, Murray’s first with the Titans, yielded another Pro Bowl campaign for the Las Vegas native. He led the AFC with 1,287 rushing yards, and re-solidified himself as one of the league’s elite backs following a disappointing one-year stint with the Philadelphia Eagles.

To summarize, Murray is a really productive NFL running back, and he has been for quite some time. His combination of power, lateral quickness, pass protection ability, and receiving prowess makes him the ideal bell-cow for the Titans’ offense, and one of the best overall offensive players in the game of football.

For someone with as much experience and historical success as Murray, the preseason is 100% meaningless. Sure, it would be nice for him to “get his feet wet,” but does one of the elite talents of the NFL really need to get hit four or five times to get himself into game shape? The answer to that question is a resounding no.

Murray would be the exact same player come Week 1 of the regular season regardless of whether he touched the ball zero times in the preseason or twenty times. He has nothing to prove, and he doesn’t need the reps. Give them to someone else (Derrick Henry fanatics rejoice).

KANSAS CITY, MO – DECEMBER 18: Running back DeMarco Murray
KANSAS CITY, MO – DECEMBER 18: Running back DeMarco Murray /

2. He needs to be completely fresh.

In the preseason that followed Adrian Peterson’s MVP season with the Minnesota Vikings in 2012, he didn’t dress for a single one of the Vikings’ four exhibition games. The result? Another Pro Bowl season in 2013.

In the preseason that followed quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s first season as the San Francisco 49ers’ starter, in which he led the team to the Super Bowl, he was told by head coach Jim Harbaugh never to leave the pocket, and given very limited reps. The result? He led San Francisco back to the NFC Championship game.

There is an endless list of recent occurrences where NFL coaches kept their star players out of preseason action and reaped the reward of their wise decision. Not only does the preseason not aid a vast majority of the NFL’s stars, but it takes unnecessary energy away from them. DeMarco Murray is heading into his age-29 campaign, and may not have many years of Pro Bowl caliber production left in him.

With that being the case, the Titans should do everything within their power to keep the centerpiece of their offense fresh, and to prolong his career. Giving Murray carries in the preseason would not only be meaningless, it would waste a handful of the few precious carries he has left in him.

NASHVILLE, TN – DECEMBER 11: DeMarco Murray /

3. It’s not worth the risk.

The 2015 preseason saw Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson tear his ACL and subsequently miss the entirety of the regular season. As a result, the team struggled all year to find offensive rhythm, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers had one of the more forgettable seasons of his career. There are plenty of other similar stories of preseason injury woes, some just as recent.

These stories shouldn’t be glossed over by NFL teams as bad luck or anomalies. Rather, they should be used as cautionary tales. In addition to wasting a player’s energy by giving them meaningless reps, the preseason presents a real risk of injury.

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Nothing could possibly feel worse for a coach, minus perhaps losing a Super Bowl or other postseason game, than losing a star player to a brutal injury in an exhibition game. The Titans’ offense runs through DeMarco Murray, and despite the fact that Derrick Henry is waiting in the wings, losing him would be an incredibly monumental setback.

He’s all ready dealing with a hamstring injury, so why even risk making it worse? Even if the Titans were to follow appropriate procedure, take things slowly, and not play Murray in the preseason until the hammy was completely healed, it still would be asinine and an uneducated decision.

Unless Murray personally walks into Mike Mularkey’s office and tells him that he wants preseason reps so that he can get into some kind of rhythm, absolutely no reason exists as to why the Titans should play him during the month of August.