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From the NFL Owners Meetings: What Will Life After Derrick Henry Look Like in the Titans Running Game?


ORLANDO – Life with Derrick Henry is over in Tennessee.

So, what will things look like in the running game for the Titans moving forward?

Right now, not even Titans coach Brian Callahan and general manager Ran Carthon are sure how things will play out, but with recently signed Tony Pollard and returning back Tyjae Spears in the mix, the team feels pretty good about things.

"I think our best version of Tony is probably coming," Callahan said of Pollard, who recorded 3,621 career rushing yards on 762 carries, an average of 4.8 yards a carry, in his first five NFL seasons, all in Dallas. Pollard has 176 career receptions for 1,319 yards and five touchdowns in his career. "Tony's explosiveness, his ability to be productive in the passing game, he has real receiver skills, and then be able to pass protect – he sort of has all three things you look for in a running back. (He's) a very three-down player, and one we can pair up with Tyjae Spears and I think have a pretty formidable 1-2 punch."

Following the departure of Henry, who signed with the Ravens, the Titans will have a new look in the running game.

The 6-foot, 209-pound Pollard brings a new weapon after Spears made a splash as a rookie in Tennessee, running for 453 yards and amassing 385 receiving yards on 52 catches in 2023.

Callahan on Monday was asked about the distribution of carries for the backs, and the potential roles for each one.

Right now, he said it's hard to predict.

"We'll find out," Callahan said of the backs. "As I see them right now, they are both pretty interchangeable. But I do think there will be some definition of role as we get going, and we put the pads on and start playing, those guys will probably separate themselves in some role or another that they'll sort of sink their teeth into. But as of right now, I see them pretty interchangeable. We'll find out more as we go."

Carthon said from the owners meetings the two running backs will provide great options.

"Tony, just being in tandem with Tyjae (Spears)," Carthon said, "having two explosive guys that can take it the distance anywhere on the field. His ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and provide us with explosive plays (is exciting)."

In addition to Pollard and Spears, running backs Hassan Haskins and Julius Chestnut are also in the mix, fighting for roster spots, and playing time.

"Hassan was having a good camp prior to him getting hurt in the first preseason game," Carthon said of Haskins, "and Julius flat-out earned his way onto our roster last year. And you expect both of those guys to come in and compete and earn them a spot this season as well. The competition will only make us better."

The Titans are optimistic about things moving forward in the running game.

As it turns out, receiver DeAndre Hopkins is, too.

"Pollard and Spears are two great running backs, and you really can't put them in one box," Hopkins said. "It's going to be unique to see, and I think it does a lot for not just the passing game, but for the offense in general.

"Tyjae is my little brother, and I actually work out with Pollard in Dallas. So, just being in the gym and seeing the work he's putting in every day, two years removed from his surgery, I can tell he is going to have one of his better years this year for sure."

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