The Titans drafted Dorial Green-Beckham to be a game-changer, and he had his moments in 2015. Green-Beckham finished the year with more catches (32), yards (549) and touchdowns (4) than six of the seven receivers selected in front of him, with the lone exception being Oakland’s Amari Cooper, the fourth overall pick of the draft. The Titans now need DGB to step up and be more consistent in his second NFL season. Green-Beckham dropped some weight from last season, but he’s one of the receivers who needs to return to Nashville in better shape. At the end of June’s minicamp, Green-Beckham vowed to be ready.
DGB had a solid fantasy points per target (1.18) and is slated for a larger target share in his sophomore season. He averaged 5.9 T/G over his final nine games and played at a 44-791-3.5 pace in that span. In offseason activities, Green-Beckham has been passed on the depth chart by rookie Tajae Sharpe, so it's no sure thing that he's starting Week 1. Risk-adverse owners may want to proceed with caution, though this may simply be a motivational tool to ensure that DGB reports to camp with a sense of urgency.
Coming off a stellar 2014 season, DeMarco Murray’s numbers weren’t nearly as impressive last season with the Eagles, where he had few opportunities in an offense that wasn’t designed to take advantage of his strengths. The Titans plan to put Murray to work, and they’ve love how he’s handled himself over the last few months. Murray has looked good on the field, and he’s also spoken up and provided leadership. The expectation is he’ll return to form in 2016, and be the team’s workhorse in the backfield.
Related players: Derrick Henry
It’s fair to wonder if Murray’s best years are behind him after his disappointing season in Philadelphia (193 carries for 702 yards and six touchdowns). His 3.6 YPC was a full 1.1 YPC less than his 2014 average in his epic season with the Cowboys. Now he joins a Tennessee team that may have trouble staying in a run-heavy game script, and he’ll have to fend off 2nd-round pick Derrick Henry.
That may sound like a confusing statement, but it's not. Elliott is going to help Dallas' defense greatly with his ability to keep it off the field. Much like DeMarco Murray did in 2014, Elliott is going to carry the load, take pressure off of quarterback Tony Romo, and allow the defense to get plenty of rest throughout games.
"He's definitely a three-tool player that can just play on every single down," safety Barry Church said on Sirius XM NFL Radio. "And it helps out the defense a lot. It takes up our play downs by a lot. That also happened in 2014 when we had DeMarco Murray. He was punishing defenses and we were three-and-out here, three-and-out there, and we were fresh in the fourth quarter. That's how we won all of our games, by getting takeaways in the fourth quarter, but that was because we were fresh."
Church added in the piece the Cowboys could return to their 2014 form of grounding and pounding, and with an aging Romo at QB, the strategy makes sense. Couple that with a very good O-line, and it's easy to see why Elliot ranks fourth on our RB list coming into this season. With Darren McFadden's injury, he's on pace to get RB1 touches.
A year ago, Joseph Randle was preparing for his first year as the starting tailback of the Dallas Cowboys, taking over the job from DeMarco Murray. Now, Randle is moving closer and closer to an extended stay in prison.
Via TMZ, a Kansas judge has found Randle to be mentally competent to stand trial on felony charges arising from a beer-pong game gone bad.
Randle allegedly reacted to whatever happened during the game by attacking guests at a party in Kansas and then hitting multiple people with his car.
Randle remains in custody, and a competency exam resulted in a finding that Randle is mentally capable to participate in a trial.
Titans running backs coach Sylvester Croom is sold on veteran running back DeMarco Murray.
He loves his work ethic, his leadership skills, and his ability. He’s been blown away by what he’s seen this offseason.
“He’s a coach’s dream,’’ Croom said of Murray.
It’s fair to wonder if Murray’s best years are behind him after his disappointing season in Philadelphia (193 carries for 702 yards and six touchdowns). His 3.6 YPC was a full 1.1 YPC less than his 2014 average in his epic season with the Cowboys. Now he joins a Tennessee team that may have trouble staying in a run-heavy game script, and he’ll have to fend off 2nd-round pick Derrick Henry. But it's good to hear that he's off to a good start.
David Helman of DallasCowboys.com:
I don’t think it’s even a question that Ezekiel Elliott will be first string, and I’d say that even if Darren McFadden was 100 percent healthy. To your second point, I don’t think “concerned” is the word I’d use, but it’s definitely something I’d be mindful of. DeMarco Murray got 83 percent of the carries for this team in 2014, and he finished with more than 400 total touches. That’s a tad much for anyone, let alone a rookie. Fortunately, the Cowboys have vastly superior depth at the position this year. I think Zeke will finish with roughly 280-300 carries, which would put him right around 18-20 per game. That should leave plenty of carries for Alfred Morris and McFadden to get involved.
It's doubtful that the Cowboys drafted Elliott #4 overall to let him sit behind McFadden and/or Morris as a rookie. As long as he doesn't fall on his face, he should be the workhorse, with McFadden and Morris sprinkling in as change-of-pace backs. McFadden’s offseason injury only serves to help Elliott’s chances of RB1 touches.
Following a disappointing season with the Philadelphia Eagles in a system that didn’t seem to fit DeMarco Murray’s skills, the running back was asked on The Jim Rome Show if he believes Mike Mularkey’s offense in Tennessee is a better fit for him. He answered, “I do. It’s strictly downhill and that’s what I’ve been accustomed to my entire life. Nothing against last year or what happened, it just didn’t work out, but I’m very excited about this upcoming season and looking forward to it.”
The emergence of 5th-round rookie WR Tajae Sharpe begs the question: What does it mean for veterans like Dorial Green-Beckham and Justin Hunter? Those players have been watching as Sharpe has lined up with the starters. Rishard Matthews has been the other outside receiver while Kendall Wright has been busy - and looked good - in the slot.
“I am hoping they are taking it personal, and they are going to come back in here in better shape, and better prepared and healthy and ready to go out of the gate,’’ Mularkey said when asked about Green-Beckman and Hunter. “(We want to see that) from the first practice on.”
This could just be a motivational ploy, but it's not like Green-Beckham has the sort of resume that buys hm a lot of leash when it comes to being in "better shape" or being "better prepared." DGB could be starting in Week 1, but the odds are less favorable than they were a month or two ago. Sharpe doesn't have a great athletic profile, but he has quickly ascended the Titans' depth chart. Owners looking for value may want to avoid DGB for the time being and target Rishard Matthews and/or Kendall Wright, who seem locked in as starters.
Titans beat writer Paul Kuharsky:
New receivers coach Bob Bratkowski said the time off for Green-Beckham is still a factor in his game.
“It’s still there, it’s going to be there,” Bratkowski said. “You can’t ever replace the experienced missed. Is it going to get better? Yes. But that gap, that missing time of the experience missed, is always going to be a part of it.
“Maybe three years from now, it’ll be a moot point. I still think right now in just playing the game, there are things that he missed. If you take Jerry Rice or any top receiver or actually any player, and they had that kind of a gap, it has an effect on them. It takes time.”
DGB has a solid FP/T (1.18, #35) and is slated for a larger target share in his sophomore season. He averaged 5.9 T/G over his final nine games and played at a 44-791-3.5 pace in that span. Negative news at this point in the offseason usually isn't a good sign for the fall, but Green-Beckham still has time to earn a starting job.
“I think I’ve said it before: He clearly has a role here,’’ Mularkey said of McCluster. “The offense is multi-faceted, and he will be parts of many different packages to try and attack defenses.”
If McCluster has a sizable role in the passing game, it will put a dent in the upside of DeMarco Murray, who is a solid receiver out of the backfield.
So, what’s Titans offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie’s theory on running backs, and division of carries?
“I believe in just doing whatever we have to do, whatever is necessary to win the game,’’ Robiskie said. “Obviously we’ll have it situated going into the game, and figuring, ‘Hey, we want to go this way or go that way.’ If we get to going in the game and some guy gets the hot hand and that’s what it takes to win the game then that is what we are going to do.
“We are not going to sit down before the game and say, ‘So and so has to have 20 carries, or he has to touch it 25 times,’’’ Robiskie said. “We are going to go into the game and we’ll run the offense and try and get it called and try and execute it and whatever we feel we need to get done to win the game, that’s what we’re going to get done. But we don’t sit down and structure, so and so has to have 25 carries, so and so has to get 30 carries.”
If a certain guy gets hot, with a smile, Robiskie said, “I wouldn’t be afraid to give him 70 (carries). If I hand it to him and he keeps running for touchdowns, I’ll keep handing it to him.”
This doesn't sound particularly good for Murray, who didn't run the ball very well while in Philadelphia. He'll have to fend off Henry, so this is shaping up to be an unpredictable running game.
Only six active NFL players have a higher career yards-per-catch average than Kenny Stills (16.5), and Dolphins coach Adam Gase said he “definitely” wants to get him involved more after he was targeted just 63 times last season (compared with 165 for Jarvis Landry).
Stills says that excites him and “the numbers don’t lie” about Gase’s offenses.
But the chemistry must improve with Ryan Tannehill. Though a bunch of Stills’ targets were difficult deep routes (and that must be taken into account with this stat), he caught only 42.8 percent of passes thrown to him, compared to 70.4 for Rishard Matthews (now with Tennessee), 66.7 for Landry, 50.9 for DeVante Parker and 50 for Jordan Cameron.
Stills had only two drops last season, so many of the incomplete passes were errant throws by Tannehill. Gase has been impressed with Stills so far this offseason.
The plan is for Murray to be the starter, and to get the bulk of the carries. And he’s been impressive so far. I expect him to have success. But henry is going to get his share of carries as well, and you know how this works – if one guy is tearing it up, he’ll get more opportunities. We’ll just see how things play out.
Murray's stock took a hit when the Titans curiously spent a second round pick on Henry. He should still be a good bet for 300 carries, provided he stays healthy, but he'll have to outplay Henry to keep his job.
Tuesday, May 17, 2016, 4:08pm
Monday, May 16, 2016, 9:55am
Mettenberger is winless in 10 starts, but should find a new team quickly given the shaky QB situation of some of the teams around the league.
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