NASHVILLE, Tenn. —Bishop Sankey can't lie – his patience has been tested this season.
The Titans running back has pretty much been an afterthought since September, when he began the season as one of the team's top backs.
Sankey hasn't played in two of the last three games, however, and has just 17 carries over the last eight weeks of the season. He was inactive last Thursday against the Jaguars.
"It's been real tough,'' Sankey said. "You want to get out there and play. … It has been a challenge, definitely, but I've tried to come in each day with the same mentality, to work hard in practice and try and get the trust back of the coaches."
A second-round pick by the Titans in 2014, Sankey ran for 74 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries in a season-opening win at Tampa Bay. The following week he carried the ball 12 more times, for 42 yards. He also served as the team's kick returner.
Sankey carried the ball just five times for 10 yards in Week 3 against the Colts, however, and he was held to just 20 yards on seven carries the following week against the Bills.
He drifted into the background after that, however. He had three carries against the Dolphins, and only two against Carolina. He didn't have a carry in the two others games he played in. Some mishandled kickoffs ended up costing Sankey the return job.
Interim coach Mike Mularkey has praised Sankey for his work ethic, and attitude.
With Dexter McCluster out with a knee injury, Sankey is expected to be active this week against the Raiders. But he's clearly now the third option at running back behind Antonio Andrews and David Cobb.
"I'll tell you, he's worked hard the last two weeks, that's one of the reasons he was up over (David) Cobb last week,'' Mularkey said of Sankey. "He's working very hard in practice but because of numbers and what we're dealing with injuries elsewhere, he was down. We just wanted to give Cobb a chance this week, but he'll be up. Bishop's working hard. He hasn't changed his work ethic."
Sankey, who ran for 569 yards and two touchdowns during his rookie season a year ago, said he plans to keep working. He said Titans running backs coach Sylvester Croom and his family have kept him focused, and upbeat.
He wants to finish strong.
"There's definitely opportunities coming my way, and I plan to take advantage of all of them," Sankey said. "I am excited for the opportunities coming.
"… We still have a decent amount of games left, and I am just trying to keep looking ahead. I am just trying to make a good impression, and trying to go out with a bang."