What does the Tennessee Titans’ running back additions on Tuesday mean for Dion Lewis?
Now that the Tennessee Titans have added two running backs to the active roster, is running back Dion Lewis in trouble?
Lewis has been a major disappointment this season. If he isn’t dropping passes, Lewis is averaging just 3.7 yards per run and reception this season. He has added nothing to an offense that is already struggling to score points.
On Tuesday, the Titans added running back Dalyn Dawkins from the practice squad to the 53-man roster, while also signing a more experienced back in Rod Smith. Dawkins doesn’t have much experience in the NFL. He played just four snaps for the Titans in 2018 on special teams.
The 5-foot-7, 183-pound back really made a name for himself in the final preseason game of 2019 when he was the star, totaling 117 rushing yards on 13 attempts (nine yards per carry), to go along with four receptions for 31 yards and two touchdowns.
Dawkins certainly showed some promise in that game and it initially helped him make the 53-man roster, but it was still just a preseason game. He’s very much a wild card, but a wild card I’m interested in giving a shot to instead of Lewis.
The more interesting add was that of Smith, who spent the past three-plus seasons with the Dallas Cowboys. Aside from potential offensive production, Smith brings his big, 6-foot-3, 235-pound frame that could serve the role running back David Fluellen was supposed to as a blocker. Smith is also a plus special teams player.
On the surface, Smith’s 9.1 yards per reception in Dallas looks impressive, but you have to factor in an 81-yard reception into that number. Without it, his average is just 6.4 yards per reception. He also sports a career yards per carry average of 3.6.
The thing with Smith is that the Titans didn’t necessarily need a fourth back and could have added either Dawkins, or signed Smith by himself to be the third guy behind Derrick Henry and Lewis. Smith could have filled the blocker role if that’s what the Titans wanted, or Dawkins could have been the emergency third back — and both have special teams experience.
Instead, the Titans added one of their own and brought in a more experienced outsider who can do multiple things for the team. The move to add two running backs tells me that the Titans aren’t just looking to fill roster spots, but also looking for options to challenge Lewis moving forward.
Whether it’s Dawkins, Smith, or both, the Titans need to at least try something.
Dawkins’ build and skill set looks a lot more like Lewis’, so I’d guess he’d get the first crack at supplanting Lewis on third downs. Smith is capable of catching the ball out of the backfield, also, and could become the back to carry the ball in place of Lewis when Henry isn’t on the field.
Now, this doesn’t mean Lewis will be gone altogether if I’m right because he is getting paid handsomely, however we could see a lot less of him moving forward. We’ll know more for sure this coming Sunday when the Titans travel to Denver to take on the Broncos.