The Tennessee Titans had a lot of question marks following another mediocre season where they finished 7-9. After a promising start, starting quarterback Jake Locker was injured, and it ultimately cost them their season. In the offseason, the team hired new head coach Ken Whisenhunt, who brought in his own ideas for how an offense should be ran in today’s NFL. After the Titans decided to cut Chris Johnson, who was vastly overpaid for his amount of production, they created another hole on the offensive side of the ball.
The Titans had the pick of the litter, as far as running backs go, when their selection came up near the end of the second round in this year’s draft. They decided to pick University of Washington Huskies‘ running back Bishop Sankey. The selection screamed Whisenhunt. Sankey gives the Titans a dual-threat back that is crucial in Whisenhunt’s offense, and he showed just how valuable he will be to the team this season in their win over the Green Bay Packers in the first week of the preseason.
The NFL is evolving into a highly offensive-driven league. Players are now asked to be more versatile in their game. The time has nearly vanished where running backs are asked to only be responsible for taking the handoff from the quarterback and eat up yards on the ground. One play from last night’s game showed Titans’ fans they now have the type of running back that is needed to succeed in today’s NFL.
With two minutes left in the first half, backup quarterback Whitehurst channeled his Johnny Football and evaded a pass rush that looked to be a surefire sack. After rolling out of the pocket to the near side of the field, Whitehurst chucked a ball to the sideline that looked to be headed out of bounds. Out of nowhere, Sankey emerged with the ball and turned it up field for a 23 yard gain and a Titans’ first down. It may seem like a meaningless pay in a preseason exhibition game, but that catch is cause for Titans’ fans to rejoice in knowing they have a new type of game changer at the running back position.
Sankey, who finished the with three catches for 38 yards, showed excellent instincts in breaking off his route and coming back to the ball and bailing out his quarterback with a big play. He is going to have is growing pains as a rookie, but he will give Locker a huge weapon in the backfield when he is in the game. The offense will be that much more potent with playmakers like Kendall Wright, Justin Hunter, Nate Washington and Delanie Walker all on the field joining Sankey. With the abilities to hit the hole hard on a handoff, block on passing downs and releasing on plays to get open for his quarterback, he has a chance to be the complete back the Titans wish they had last year in Johnson.
Veteran running back Shonn Greene, who had a rushing touchdown in the first quarter following a Packer’s muffed punt, is expected get the bulk of the carries for the Titans while Sankey gets acclimated to the NFL. This allows Sankey a chance to enter the game in situations that will give him a greater chance to succeed, building his confidence in the process. The Titans’ offense has a chance to be very dangerous under Whisenhunt. Sankey gives them the balance at the running back position to realize that dangerous potential.