KANSAS CITY --Titans running backs coach Sylvester Croom is a no-nonsense coach who offers praise when it's deserved. He's also not afraid to dish out some constructive criticism.
This week, I talked to Croom about the top players in his backfield.
He said a lot of good things about his backs. But he didn't hold back when discussing rookie David Cobb, a player he likes, but admits is a work in progress heading into the team's third preseason game tonight against the Chiefs.
Croom's take on each guy…
RB Bishop Sankey
Preseason stats: 14 carries, 60 yards, 4.3-yard average, 0 TDs.
Croom on Sankey: "I think Bishop made significant improvement last week in practices as far as getting downhill and hitting the hole and it showed up in the game. That is something he has to continue to work on. I think from the first game to the last game his improvement was significant, and he played with a lot of confidence. He has to continue to work on that where it is consistently done that way. Pass protection, assignment-wise, he is doing a good job, but we still have to improve on technique. He needs to make the running style consistent. I am one of those guys who once I see it one time, I want to see it every single time."
RB David Cobb
Preseason stats: 19 carries, 79 yards, 4.2-yard average, 0 TDs. Plus, two catches for nine yards.
Croom on Cobb:** "I like his natural running ability, his natural running instincts. But he has a long way to go. He has to learn how to be a pro as far as work ethic, taking care of his body, getting in here early and doing the little things it takes to be a pro. He still hasn't quite learned what being professional means, so he has to learn that. There's no scholarships here, and his work ethic has to be better. He has to learn to practice like you play in a game. Once he does that, he has a chance to be a good football player."
RB Dexter McCluster
Preseason stats: 3 carries, 19 yards, 6.3-yard average, 1 TD. Plus, one catch for five yards.
Croom on McCluster: "Dexter is really playing well right now, doing some good things. The biggest thing he needs to do is be able to jump up and make a catch when he is in the end zone. But otherwise he is running hard. For a little man, his pass protection technique has improved probably the most in the entire group. He gives us explosiveness, a change of pace, and he is running the ball. He definitely gives you something in the passing game. One-on-one matchups against him are going to be tough (on teams)."
RB Antonio Andrews**
Preseason stats: 9 carries, 37 yards, 4.1-yard average, 1 TD. Plus, two catches for 25 yards.
Croom on Andrews: "Right now, Antonio is probably the most consistent guy in the group. When you take running, pass protection, the routes, he is performing at a high level right now. You just want to see consistency and refining pass protection techniques and just consistently playing well, that is what you want to see from him. Right now he is developing into a player you can depend on. The biggest thing for him, I like to see him get his pad level down. He is a strong, powerful runner but if he can be lower it will make him even more effective."
RB/FB Jalston Fowler
Preseason stats: 0 carries, 0 yards. Plus, 0 catches for 0 yards.
Croom on Fowler: "Jaston has to learn the pad level. When you are coming out of college you are used to overpowering people, and he has to learn to play with pad level and take the right angles on blocks. And he has to be able to read defenses and understand what can happen pre-snap. All the things that rookies don't know, he just has to learn. He catches the ball extremely well, that never has been a problem. He has excellent hands. Catching the football is not something I am concerned about with him."