Tennessee Titans 2009 offseason positional analysis: RB

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In 2008, the Tennessee Titan running backs smashed and dashed their way to frequent success. Led by the exploits of rookie Chris Johnson and third-year pro LenDale White, the Titans ended the regular season as the league’s 7th ranked rushing attack, averaging an impressive 137.4 yards per contest.

As the seemingly eternal abyss a.k.a. the offseason continues its slow and steady march, let’s proceed with our positional analyses by taking a look at the current state of affairs at RB.

Chris Johnson

From his sensational 66-yard preseason touchdown run against the Rams to his performance in only one half of action against the Ravens, Chris Johnson’s playmaking abilities were a godsend to the Titan offense.

As impressed as I was with his top-level jets, I was just as appreciative of CJ’s desire to mix it up between the tackles. Despite his small stature, CJ proved to be much more than a jack-of-all-trades back. Following in the footsteps of smaller backs such as Brian Westbrook and Willie Parker before him, Johnson has emerged as a premier primary back in this league.

LenDale White

Despite being upstaged by the new kid on the block, White was a TD scoring machine for the Titans in 2008. Undoubtedly aided by his offseason meniscus surgery, White rumbled for 15 touchdowns, including a memorable 80-yarder against the Chiefs.

White often catches a lot of flack as a result of his penchant for running too softly for a man of his size. However, I’ve learned to accept LenDale’s limitations and to appreciate him for what he is: a guy who has a nose for reaching the endzone.

Of course, as indicated by the playoff loss to the Ravens, color me not too enthused about White being the team’s featured runner. As long as CJ is the primary RB, I have no problems with LenDale as the number two option in the running game.

Chris Henry  

Contrary to Smash and Dash, Henry was often stashed on the Titans’ bench in 2008. The former second-round draft choice only carried the ball once last year: a three-yarder in the meaningless regular-season finale against the Colts.

Even Stevie Wonder can see that Henry’s future in Tennessee is cloudy at best. With Johnson and White entrenched as the first two options in the running game, now would be a great time for the Titans to try and get something in return for Henry.

How about this trade scenario: trade Henry to Washington so he can reunite with former Titan running backs coach Sherman Smith. Since C-Hen isn’t being used in Tennessee, let’s see if the Redskins would be willing to give up a late-round draft pick to acquire Mr. Invisible.

Quinton Ganther  

I like Ganther. Despite his lack of size (5’9, 214 lbs) he packs a powerful punch when he runs the football. Who can forget his 115 yards on only 8 carries against the Rams last August?

Whether or not the Titans decide to move Henry, I’m very comfortable with Ganther as the team’s #3 running back in 2009.

Rafael Little

Despite injuring his knee in last year’s Senior Bowl, the Titans picked up Little as an undrafted free agent last spring. Now healthy, Little will get his chance to make an impression on the football field in 2009.

During his days at Kentucky, Rafael was an all-purpose back who contributed in a multitude of ways. He is one of only three players in SEC history to attain 2,500 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving.

I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on him during training camp.

What are your thoughts on the Titans’ running back situation? Should the team stay the course at RB, or upgrade the position via free agency and/or the draft?   

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6 Responses to “Tennessee Titans 2009 offseason positional analysis: RB”

  1. Seth Leonard Says:

    Well I turned 21 today and had been hoping to see a Titans superbowl as my gift.
    Since that didn’t happen, I’m lookin ahead too. I’m just hoping that CJ heals up over the off-season and maybe sits a spell in the weight room. Other than that I feel like RB is the position least in question.
    Get Lendale on that treadmill, please.

  2. Scott Says:

    Clearly, Henry is done in Tennessee. CJ is the starter for the foreseeable future. Ganther will be the forth back and a special teamer. Lendale will likely continue to be the number 2 back and goal line specialist, but I think he will start to lose carries this coming season to Little, who I believe has been kept around this year because Fisher and Byner think that he can contribute. Little might be a diamond in the rough and replace Lendale if he can fix the fumbling problems he had at Kentucky.

  3. Andrew Strickert Says:

    Happy birthday, Seth! Good stuff, Drexel. Scott, I somewhat disagree about LenDale losing carries to Little, mainly because the Titans normally keep only two RBs active on gamedays, which would be Smash and Dash when both are healthy. Now that could change if Little becomes the punt or kick returner, in which case they’d keep three active. I agree with you completely about Henry being done in Tennessee. The most telling thing to me is that he only got one carry in Week 17. Clearly, he’s in the coaches’ doghouse. It looks like Ganther and Little will compete for the #3 spot in training camp.

  4. Drexel Perry Says:

    Thanks for chiming in, guys.
    Happy birthday Seth…hopefully, the Titans will make it up to you next year.

  5. Alvin Mullins Says:

    Can we also trade White? I could beat the dude to the hole. He runs behind the same line as CJ but just is too sloooooooooooooow!

  6. i.jason Says:

    Trading C-Hen is a no-brainer. Wonder what a C-Hen/VY package would bring on the open market?
    I think this is the first year in a long time that the Titans not only don’t take an RB in the top 2 rounds, but don’t take an RB at all in the draft, except maybe a PR/KR/Practice Squad type in round 7.

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