In the Titans 2016 pre-season opener, DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry absolutely stole the show. We've heard all off-season about the change in attitude and the exotic smashmouth mentality. Tonight, it was on display.
It all began with a DeMarco Murray toss play behind Taylor Lewan and Quinton Spain on the first snap of the game. That set the tone for a special night. On the next drive, DeMarco Murray broke off a 71 yard run, scoring the first Titans' touchdown of the pre-season. Dorial Green-Beckham, Harry Douglas and Taylor Lewan had the key blocks while Murray made a man miss and took it to the house.
Murray finished the night with 6 carries for 93 yards and a touchdown. He looked like a totally different guy.
In steps Derrick Henry. He picked up right where Murray left off. Henry kept eating up chunks of yards, ripping off gains of 6 and 15 on his first two carries. He was used exclusively all the way to the redzone, where he was able to punch it in for his first score as a Titan. Even Bishop Sankey got in on the fun late, scoring on a 41 yard run.
Marcus Mariota had a quiet, but efficient night. He was overshadowed because of the success of the run game, but Mariota was no slouch. He got the game rolling with a 31 yard strike to Tajae Sharpe. Mariota finished 5-5 for 45 yards.
Speaking of Tajae Sharpe, he exited this one early and is being evaluated for a concussion.
Defensively, it was a little shaky. A bust in coverage allowed Melvin Gordon to go 40+ yards for an early touchdown. We didn't get to see a lot of work from the first team tonight, but Kevin Byard stole the show on the second team.
Byard picked off Mettenberger in the third quarter, reading an out route and undercutting it for the pick. He's picking up right where he left off at MTSU, where he registered 19 career interceptions.
The Chargers were brutal offensively, only mustering 10 points on the night. The first team appeared to be in rhythm, but once the second team was inserted, it got ugly. The Titans ended up running away with this one, 27-10.
Overall, this was a largely successful night for the Titans' youth. Derrick Henry and Jack Conklin led the way, followed by Kevin Byard and Tajae Sharpe. We saw big plays made all over the field. Austin Johnson seems a little behind schedule, but he's also fighting a crowded depth chart. We don't really know what they have in Kevin Dodd yet either.
It was only the first pre-season game, but it sure was nice to see some competence in the rushing attack. A good run game can fix a lot of problem for an offense -- let's hope this is the first step to something special.