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Titans’ Brian Callahan on RB roles: ‘We’ll find out’

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By: Ryan Sikes

For the first time since 2016, the Tennessee Titans will be without Derrick Henry in their backfield. The 30-year-old signed a two-year deal with the Baltimore Ravens.

The Titans were quick to sign running back Tony Pollard to a three-year contract after he had spent his first five seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, and the signing officially signaled the end of the Henry era in Nashville.

Tennessee has long been a franchise that has leaned on its running game. Without Henry as the presumed lead back, there are undoubtedly questions surrounding the running backs room and how the touches will be shared.

Along with Pollard, the Titans will work in Tyjae Spears. The former third-round pick orchestrated a solid rookie season considering the circumstances, accounting for 453 rushing yards on 100 carries. Spears was heavily utilized in the passing game, as well, collecting 385 yards on 52 catches.

Going into the 2024 season, the running back competition between Pollard and Spears will be one of the more interesting storylines. How can the two co-exist? Could competition bring out the best in both players?

“We’ll find out,” Titans head coach Brian Callahan said of the backs, via Jim Wyatt. “As I see them right now, they are both pretty interchangeable. But I do think there will be some definition of role as we get going, and we put the pads on and start playing, those guys will probably separate themselves in some role or another that they’ll sort of sink their teeth into. But as of right now, I see them pretty interchangeable. We’ll find out more as we go.”

In addition to Pollard and Spears, the Titans have Hassan Haskins and Julius Chestnut looking to carve out roles.

Haskins, drafted in the fourth round in 2022, rushed for 93 yards on 25 carries in his rookie campaign. However, he missed all of last season after suffering an injury in training camp.

As a result, Chestnut, who had a tremendous preseason showing, made the initial roster and played mostly on special teams before suffering a season-ending injury.

It’s fair to expect both guys to be hungry to prove themselves in 2024, especially with uncertainty about how the Titans plan to integrate their running backs.

However, given his contract and his emergence in the league over the last two seasons, Pollard figures to receive the lion’s share of the carries in 2024.

The former Memphis Tiger developed in a similar role to Henry when he came up with the Cowboys. Pollard played behind Ezekiel Elliott until he outrushed his teammate in 2022, despite seeing fewer carries.

With Dallas moving on from Elliott after the 2022 season, Pollard became the featured back. At 26 years of age, he played in all 17 games and rushed for 1,005 yards on 252 carries. Additionally, Pollard was a threat in the passing game, hauling in 55 catches on 67 targets for 311 yards.

Serving primarily as a backup until last year has helped Pollard become a weapon for the Titans because he still has relatively low miles on him.

Now, Tennessee can unleash their free-agent splash this year.

“I think our best version of Tony is probably coming,” Callahan said of Pollard, who came back from a fractured fibula last season after suffering the injury during the 2022 playoffs. “Tony’s explosiveness, his ability to be productive in the passing game, he has real receiver skills, and then be able to pass protect — he sort of has all three things you look for in a running back. (He’s) a very three-down player, and one we can pair up with Tyjae Spears and I think have a pretty formidable 1-2 punch.”

Originally posted on Titans Wire