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DeMarco Murray Has Restored Roar in Titans Running Game


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — DeMarco Murray isn't counting his carries, or his 100-yard games.

The Titans running back, acquired this offseason via trade, said he's only worried about the outcome of games. His early season success, however, is a good sign for a team that's making good on its plan of bringing a dominant run game back to Nashville.

"Every time we go into a game I tell him, '100 yards or more.' That's what I want,'' Titans tackle Taylor Lewan said of Murray. "Because his success is our success. We get the opportunity to run the ball, and it is a huge accomplishment as an offensive line to see him get those yards. He is an unbelievable back. He makes guys miss all the time. He also lowers his shoulder. I am very impressed."

Murray has gone over the 100-yard mark in three of the team's past five games. He's currently third in the NFL with 633 rushing yards, with five touchdowns, and is on pace to finish the season with 1,447 yards. It would be his best season since 2014 in Dallas, when he ran for 1,845 yards and 13 touchdowns en route to being named the NFL's Offensive Player of the Year.

In the process, Murray has restored the roar to the Titans running game. The Titans didn't have 100-yard rusher in 2014 or 2015. Already, Murray has more rushing yards than the team's top running back a year ago (Antonio Andrews, 520).

Murray is averaging 90.4 yards per contest.

"I just think guys are playing well,'' Murray said. "Obviously the previous two weeks Marcus (Mariota) was lighting teams up through the air, so this week the box got a little lighter. I am sure it is going to continue to get harder and harder, but I think with Rishard (Matthews) playing at a high level and Kendall (Wright) and the offensive line and those guys blocking well. …

"And Delanie (Walker) obviously, he is someone the defense pays a lot of attention to no matter what the situation is, and I think that is great for us. … We just have to find a way to keep it going, and to win games."

The Titans (3-4) face the Jaguars (2-4) on Thursday night at Nissan Stadium.

Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said he's been impressed with Murray's all-around ability. In addition to his contributions running the ball, Murray also has a team-high 27 receptions for 192 yards and two more touchdowns.

"(He's) very talented,'' Bradley said. "You know what, you try to find the scheme that you really utilize the player's strength. I felt like they did that in Dallas. I didn't see him last year (with the Eagles), but they're really utilizing his strengths and his talents. He's playing at a high level. He's one of the top running backs in the league as far as yardage, but I think what's also impressive is the receptions that he has.

"It's not surprising to me that he's playing so well because I know when he was at Dallas, we had chances to watch him on tape and he's an unbelievable back. He's got great vision and great instincts. He's playing that way this year."

Murray has 603 scrimmage yards (502 rushing, 101 receiving) in the past five games, with five touchdowns. Since 2013, he leads the NFL with 33 rushing touchdowns and is second with 4,301 rushing yards.

Since 1999, when the franchise became the Titans, Murray's 633 rushing yards already ranks sixth for the team in the first eight games of a season. Main­taining his current pace against the Jaguars would put him at 723 yards, which would be fourth-highest "Titans era" total through eight games. It would be the most since Chris Johnson's 959 yards in the first half of 2009.

"I think him as a player, just his versatility coming out of the backfield or doing certain things in the run game (stands out),'' Mariota said. "I think he's an incredible player. He's a complete player—somebody that understands protections, understands schemes—and we're very fortunate to have him."

Murray, of course, wants to keep it going.

After beginning the year averaging just 13.3 carries in the first three games, his workload has increased as well. Murray has 25, 27, 21 and 25 carries over the last four games.

When the game is on the line, he wants to be in the game, working. Behind Murray, running back Derrick Henry has 161 yards on 37 carries for the Titans.

"I think as the game goes on, no matter the carry situation, I just like to be involved in the game whether it is blocking, passing, I just like to be out there playing with the guys and trying to make an impact as much as I can," Murray said. "As the game goes on, (defensive) guys get tired, and you just kind of get a feel for what is going on."

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