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Titans Offseason Positional Analysis – Running Backs

For the third time in his six-year career, Travis Henry gained over 1,200 yards rushing, accumulating 1,211 in a comeback performance last season. After not starting in the first game and not playing in the second, Henry got the start in Week 3 and won the starting job for the rest of the season with a 123-yard effort in Week 5.
With the addition of rookie LenDale White, drafted in the second round last year, it looks like the Titans could have a solid one-two punch at running back for the next several years.

Player Gms GS Att Yards Avg Lg TDs 20+ 1stD
Travis Henry 14 13 270 1211 4.5 70 7 9 48
LenDale White 13 0 61 244 4.0 26 0 1 13
Chris Brown 5 3 41 156 3.8 21 0 1 8
Ahmard Hall 14 7 7 21 3.0 11 0 0 3

Henry is under contract through 2009, but is due a $8.3 roster bonus in March, and his contract will need to be renegotiated to spread out the cap hit that would entail. Indications are both sides want to get the deal done, but we’ll have to wait for the Titans to hire a new GM before anything can happen.
Jeff Fisher undoubtedly wants Henry back and I’m sure he’ll recommend that to the new GM. It would be a brave (and foolish) man who would buck Fisher on this as one of his first moves.
Henry’s strong points are his strength and toughness, despite his small stature. (He’s listed as only 5′ 9″ and 215 pounds.) He delivers one of the best stiffarms in the league, a technique that’s becoming somewhat of a dying art. He’s also good at sticking the ball straight up the gut, then bouncing it to the outside, usually to his right.
Weaknesses are his lack of speed and elusiveness, and a history/reputation of fumbling. He’s also in the NFL substance abuse program as a two-time offender; a repeat violation would bring a one-year suspension.
One thing I like about Henry – after a disappointing 2005 campaign that included a four-game suspension, he responded by showing up in great shape last year and working hard to win the starting job from Chris Brown.
It’s good to have White available to step in for Henry if needed. He should see more playing time with more carries next year.
White’s good points are his ability to hit the hole quickly for a big man. He’s a tough man to bring down after he gets through the hole. Look for White to get more carries on third-and-short and goal-line situations.
He disappointed last year by looking like he was always out of shape. After a hamstring injury last spring, his ability to work out was certainly limited, but he looked like he continued to be hampered all year. White also appeared to carry some extra weight, in the form of “baby fat”, with him. I’d like to see him go on a workout regimen this offseason and report back in better shape.
Credit the blocking of fullback Ahmard Hall, a serendipity last year, for many of the Titans’ rushing yards. A free agent rookie signed after the supplemental draft, Hall showed outstanding blocking ability, drawing comparisons to former Titan Lorenzo Neal. He also showed good ability as a receiver, with 15 catches for 138 yards, a 9.2 average, with two catches good for over 20 yards and six good for first downs.
Hall signed a two-year contract last year, so he’ll be back this season.
Chris Brown won’t be. He was the starter at the beginning of the season but finished the year with only three starts and five games played; being a gameday inactive eleven times. Not in favor with the coaches or front office after demanding a trade last year, Brown will be a free agent and isn’t expected to return to the Titans in 2007.
With ten draft picks this April, if the Titans aren’t able to package some of them to move up in the draft, I won’t be surprised to see them use a late-round pick for a third-down back. It’s one thing neither Henry nor White excels at and would give Norm Chow and Vince Young another weapon.
If they do that, it would give Quinton Ganther some competition. Ganther, a seventh-round draft selection last year, spent most of the season on the practice squad.