Jim Wyatt, Senior Writer/EditorTitansOnline.com
At the NFL Combine, Titans general manager Jon Robinson and head coach Mike Vrabel were peppered with questions about running backs DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry.
INDIANAPOLIS – In recent weeks, some NFL draft analysts have penciled a running back in for the Titans with the team’s first-round pick.Some good ones are available.
But here at the NFL Combine, Titans general manager Jon Robinson and new head coach Mike Vrabel were peppered with questions about the running backs currently on the roster, including DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry.
“I think we have some big powerful runners,” Vrabel said. “DeMarco is a proven player in this league, Derrick is a young player that performed well when given an opportunity. I am excited about David Fluellen. Khalfani (Muhammad), he’s a little bit of an unknown, but certainly, just about every position, we talk about.“We are looking to add and improve at every position on our roster.”
Robinson fielded the majority of the questions about the backs.
They ranged from whether Henry can be the team’s lead back in 2018, and also centered on Murray’s status on the roster moving forward.
“He’s under contract currently. We’ll see how it goes,” Robinson said of Murray. “We are evaluating everybody on the roster. At this time of the year, free agency, that’s when the financial components come into things, unlike the draft guys where you just pick them. So we’re evaluating everybody on the football team, along with guys who could be potential free agents within the next few weeks.
“You look at the financial component of the contract, as I alluded to, the player’s role on the football team,” Robinson continued when asked about Murray. “Players that you have on the team, players that you could get in free agency, players that you could get in the draft. There’s a myriad of things that affect where a player is at on the roster.”
Henry led the Titans with 744 rushing yards in 2017. He scored five rushing touchdowns, and also caught 11 passes for 136 yards and a score. Henry made some big plays down the stretch, and he turned in a 156-yard rushing performance in a playoff win at Kansas City.Murray, meanwhile, finished the year with 659 rushing yards and six touchdowns. He also caught 39 passes for 266 yards and a score.
Robinson said he was encouraged by what he saw from Henry not only in the last month, but during the entire season. Robinson said Henry, a second-round pick in 2016, caught the ball better in his second season.
“He did a nice job,” Robinson said of Henry. “He had some really strong runs for us, and had some good play time during the season, too. The game here (vs the Colts) he kind of grinded it out there and kind of sealed it for us. His performance in the playoff game on Kansas City was a good one. We are glad Derrick is on the football team and look forward to handing it to him, throwing it to him, and getting it in his hands so he can make yards.
“He is a bigger back as we all know, and has good speed in the open field. He is a guy who can get downhill, and he has the ability to pick and slide and get up in a crease. We are looking forward to him getting back, and working with him in the new offense. … He is obviously a little more acclimated to the pro game. I think he can be a guy we can hand the ball to, and throw it to.”