As training camp is scheduled to open in approximately three weeks for the Tennessee Titans, there are a number of players who must make a significant impact in order to hold on to their roster spot.
Nowhere is that more prevalent than at the running back position, where three players could be fighting for one possible spot on the 53-man roster.
Recent trade pickup DeMarco Murray and rookie second-round pick Derrick Henry are locks at the running back position for the Titans, who try to bolster a rushing attack that was pedestrian a year ago, finishing 25th in the league and averaging just under 93 yards per game. Factor in that quarterback Marcus Mariota was the team’s second-leading rusher despite missing four games, and you get an idea of how bad the running game was. Antonio Andrews led the way with 520 yards, running behind a suspect offensive line with suspect schemes. All that has been changed as part of the alterations.
Beyond Murray and Henry, the fight for the other running back spots will most certainly be based on who performs well in camp and preseason. Even then, it still could shake out differently with GM Jon Robinson holding the top spot on the waiver wire.
Among the others, Dexter McCluster appears to have the inside track to a roster spot as the change of pace back, and because he can also split out wide in certain packages and return kicks. While McCluster hasn’t been spectacular since signing with the Titans two years ago, Coach Mike Mularkey seems to like the skill set he brings to the table.
The logical assumption is that the Titans would carry fullback Jalston Fowler on the roster as well, since they want to be a run-based team and having a two-back set is part of that. Some of the two-back look, however, could expand beyond Fowler with Murray and Henry in some sets and McCluster with one of the other backs as well.
So, where does that leave Andrews, Bishop Sankey and David Cobb? Assuming the Titans keep a fifth back, it means that whoever emerges from this trio will need to be first and foremost a special teams contributor to even make the roster or be active on game days.