The two-year experiment with DeMarco Murray has come to an end. ESPN.com, NFL.com and other news sources are reporting the Tennessee Titans will release the running back and move forward with making Derrick Henry the team’s featured back.
Cameron Wolfe, the Titans’ beat writer for ESPN.com write Murray, 30, has been the Titans’ lead back the past two seasons, including in 2016, when he was the AFC’s leading rusher with 1,287 yards.
He had a career-low 659 rushing yards and tied for a career low with 3.6 yards per carry in 2017, primarily due to injuries and a lack of explosiveness. He failed to reach 1,000 yards from scrimmage this season for the first time since 2012.
“I want to thank DeMarco for his contributions as a Titan, not only for what he did on the field but also in the locker room and in the community,” Titans general manager Jon Robinson said in a statement. “He was a pro in every facet, and we wish him and his family the best moving forward.”
Former Tennessee Titans’ head coach Mike Mularkey used Henry more last season as injuries
Sidelined Murray. But it was Mularkey who leaned more on the veteran. Henry was used sparingly in his rookie season after winning the Heisman Trophy out of Alabama in 2015.
Murray was a third-round pick in 2011 by the Dallas Cowboys in 2011. He is a three-time Pro Bowl player (2013, 2014, 2016), a First-team All-Pro (2014), and the NFL Offensive Player of the Year (2014). He was the NFL rushing yards leader in 2014 and also lead the NFL in NFL rushing touchdowns that same year.
Now, the focus of the offense shifts to Henry, who lead the team with 744 yards on the ground last season. New head coach Mike Vrabel will count on the former Crimson Tide star and quarterback Marcus Mariota to take the Tennessee Titans to the playoffs after a 9-7 record in 2017.
Per Wolfe, team general manager Jon Robinson said he believes Henry can be a three-down feature back, and he’ll now get that opportunity.
“He’s catching the ball better. I thought he caught the ball better this past season than he did his rookie year,” Robinson said of Henry. “He’s obviously a little bit more acclimated to the pro game, even though those Alabama teams, there’s quite a few pro players on those teams. He can be a guy we hand the ball to and throw it to.”