Mularkey on DeMarco Murray: "He will be used extensively"



BOCA RATON, Fla. — **"You guys can fire away if you want to fire away."

Titans coach Mike Mularkey uttered those words the moment media availability for AFC coaches began here on Tuesday morning at the NFL owners meetings.

Right out of the gate, he was asked about the team's biggest acquisition this offseason -- running back DeMarco Murray. During the hour-long session, Mularkey was asked over and over again about Murray. It was easily the biggest topic at his table.

"I think he has a lot of juice left in the tank still, I really do,'' Mularkey said of Murray. "I am not going to comment on other teams and their offensive schemes and how they use players. But we believe … when we were looking at him and pursuing him in the trade, he has a lot left and in our offense we will be smart with him, how we handle him. We are going to manage him, but he is going to run the ball. He will be used extensively."

The questions on Murray came in waves, from skeptical reporters from Philadelphia, to others in Dallas who saw Murray excel with the Cowboys. National reporters also weighed in.

Mularkey was asked about everything from Murray's attitude to his workload in Dallas in 2014. He was asked how much he'll be used in Tennessee.

"He'll be involved in the run game as a for sure first and second down back,'' Mularkey said. "We've been rotating the last couple of years since I've been in Tennessee a number of backs. He'll be more of the featured back than we've had.

"It was a different offense (in Philadelphia), a shotgun offense, more sideline-to-sideline and not a lot of what we run. We are similar to Dallas in regards to the run game, and I watched him up close and personal run for (167) yards against us (in 2014) on some of the very same plays we run.

"Obviously he is going to have some runs (in the shotgun), but we are going to feature him more from under center and let him do what we've seen him do best."

The Titans and Eagles completed a trade on March 9 for Murray, the 2014 NFL's Offensive Player of the Year.

Murray led the NFL and set Cowboys franchise records in rushing yards (1,845), and scrimmage yards (2,261) in 2014. In his lone season with the Eagles last season, Murray ran for 702 yards and six touchdowns on just 193 carries.

Mularkey said he has spent "a significant amount of time" with Murray since the team signed him, and "I think he's a quality, great character guy "and I think he is going to be great for our locker room.

"Obviously we did a big background check on him and we were very pleased with the player we were getting on and off the field,'' Mularkey said. "There was a couple of backs in free agency we were looking at, and we were looking at the draft. But we were looking at a style of back who could run in this offense and DeMarco fit that."

So what's the ideal number of carries for Murray in Tennessee?

Mularkey wouldn't put a number on it, but he said he has no concerns over Murray's workload on Dallas. Murray carried the ball 392 times in Dallas in 2014, but had just 193 carries in 2015. In his five-year NFL career, Murray has 1,127 carries for 5,228 yards and 34 touchdowns.

"I've had backs that I've been with, most recently Michael Turner (in Atlanta) who had 300-plus carries a year,'' Mularkey said. "I think it is how the guy handles himself in the offseason, and how he trains, and it's obvious this guy trains pretty diligently by his makeup. It's the player that dictates how long he plays.

"But we're going to run him."


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