Dexter McCluster Wants to add Lightning to Backfield


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — "Boom Boom Pow."

Yeah, it's a Black Eyed Peas song from 2009. But it might also describe how the Titans would like their backfield to work this fall.

Since trading for DeMarco Murray and drafting Derrick Henry this offseason, the buzz surrounding the running back position has centered on the two bruising backs. Titans General Manager Jon Robinson called the tandem "Thunder and Thunder."

Veteran Dexter McCluster wants to provide some lightning.

Murray thinks he's capable.

"(Dexter) is a guy that whenever he gets in the game he can be electrifying,'' Murray said.

McCluster is ready to do his part. He believes the presence of Murray and Henry should help his cause.

"I think it will open up a lot more opportunities for me,'' said the 5-foot-8, 170-pound McCluster. "When you have some big guys that are going to run downhill, that can cause more confusion to a lot of people. I hope (defenses) forget all about me and I can get open.

"I think coach (Mike) Mularkey knows the type of player I am and (offensive coordinator Terry) Robiskie knows it as well. So they are going to make a conscious effort to keep me involved, and special teams has been great for me so I am going to do my best to make an impact there too."

McCluster, who's headed into his seventh NFL season, had his 2015 season cut short because of an injury. He played in 11 games, and ran for 247 yards and a touchdown while also catching 31 passes for 260 yards and another score. McCluster set single-game and career highs for rushing yards and scrimmage yards in a game at Cleveland in September when he ran for 98 yards on 10 carries. Add in his receiving yards (26) and return yards (41) on the day and he amassed a combined total of 165 yards against the Browns. McCluster was limited to just 45 carries in his other 10 games, however.

McCluster, who played his first four NFL seasons with the Chiefs, returned 24 punts for the Titans last season as well. The Titans believe he has the skill set to be a consistent weapon.

Mularkey has spoken highly of McCluster on numerous occasions this offseason.

"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."

McCluster believes he can add a change of pace while providing a spark in a backfield that features two big men in Murray (6-0, 217) and Henry (6-3, 247).

Named a captain last season when Mularkey took over, McCluster also prides himself as being a leader. The advice he has for the other young backs on the team – David Cobb, Antonio Andrews, Bishop Sankey, and David Fluellen – is the same as he tells himself.

"One thing I try and tell them is I've been here seven years now, and I've been around the best of the best,'' McCluster said. "All you can control is what you do. You show up and work hard and know what you are doing and the chips will fall where they may. It's not your job to worry about others, it's your job to worry about your situation and how you can help the team.

"The running backs we have, I think we can definitely be the strength. But we all have to lock in and know what we all do best, and make it happen."

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