NASHVILLE, Tenn. —During a frustrating season in Philadelphia, running back DeMarco Murray never lost his sense of humor.
"I feel like I took a year off last year, so I am fresh,'' Murray, with a smile, said on Wednesday.
Murray said he also didn't lose a step, something he aims to prove to the rest of the NFL after being traded from the Eagles to the Titans on Wednesday.
It's safe to say he'll be one motivated Titan in 2016.
Murray was the league's Offensive Player of the Year in 2014 after leading the NFL and setting Cowboys franchise records in rushing yards (1,845), and scrimmage yards (2,261) on 392 carries. After signing a five-year deal with the Eagles last season, however, Murray gained 702 yards on just 193 carries. His average yards per carry dipped from 4.7 to 3.6 yards, the lowest average of his career.
It led some to question whether Murray can become one of the NFL's elite running backs again.
"I have never been one to pay attention to the critics, but you obviously hear stuff and are around people and you hear things that are said and it definitely fires you up and motivates you,'' Murray said in an interview with Titans Online on Wednesday after arriving in town.
"I'm 100 percent (motivated). The NFL is a place where you have to make the best of your opportunities, and every day is a challenge, every day is a competition. I look forward to competing every day and getting back on track and running the ball the way I know I can, and running plays I am intrigued by."
Murray scored 13 touchdowns on 392 carries in 2014, and averaged 115.3 yards per game. He posted 12 100-yard games in 2014, including a 167-yard performance against the Titans in a game at Nissan Stadium in September.
Running back DeMarco Murray arrives at Saint Thomas Sports Park to sign his contract. (Photos: Gary Glenn)
In his lone season with the Eagles, Murray had less than half the carries from the previous season while splitting time with running backs Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles. Matthews finished last season with 539 yards while finished with 317 yards.
Murray is expected to get a heavy workload with the Titans, who finished 25th in the NFL in rushing offense, averaging just 92.8 yards per game, in 2015.
The team returns running backs Antonio Andrews, Dexter McCluster, Bishop Sankey and David Cobb from a year ago. Andrews led the team in rushing last season with 520 yards, followed by McCluster (247), Sankey (193) and Cobb (146) among running backs.
Murray noted Titans coach Mike Mularkey's work with running back Michael Turner when he served as offensive coordinator with the Falcons. Turner ran for over 1,300 yards three seasons – including a 1,699-yard season in 2008 – under Mularkey from 2008-2011.
"As a running back, everybody wants to run the ball. I know they have some great backs here already. I am excited to compete, and I am really excited to get things going,'' Murray said.
"I have seen what coach Mularkey has done with a guy like Michael Turner in Atlanta and that excites me. Whatever they ask me to do I am willing to do it, whether it is carrying the ball 20 times, 30 times, whatever. I'm excited, and I am going to do my best to help this team out and do as much as I can."