LeGarrette Blount has been counting down the days to the Tennessee Titans’ preseason opener. Literally.
“Crossing off calendar,” he said. “Have to get everything right. Have to know all my stuff before that game comes up.
“…I’m looking forward to going in there and facing the challenge so I can make my plea to get … some playing time during the regular season.”
In the often uneventful world of the NFL preseason, the situation with the Titans’ backup running backs figures to be one worth watching, beginning with Saturday’s game at Seattle, for a number of reasons.
First of all, starter Chris Johnson is not going to get a lot of work. Coming off a season during which he handled the ball more than 400 times (358 rushes, 50 receptions) coaches plan to do everything they can to keep him fresh.
“Realistically, CJ doesn’t need a lot of carries,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “We’ll get him a couple touches, and we’ll get him out. So there should be plenty to go around.
“The competition’s good right now.”
The ‘competition’ includes second-year back Javon Ringer, who appeared in just six games and had eight carries as a rookie, veteran Alvin Pearman, who was signed at the end of last October and is, therefore, a virtual rookie in this offense, as well as two undrafted rookies – Blount and Stafon Johnson.
“We’ll … try to get enough carries for everybody,” Fisher said. “It’s a hard thing to do.”
Blount already stands out among that group in one regard – size. He’s the only tailback on the roster who’s at least 6-foot (he’s exactly 6-0) and at 247 pounds, he he has at least 25 pounds on all the others, not to mention six pounds on starting fullback Ahmard Hall.
“He’s what you call a north-south runner,” Fisher said. “… He runs low, he runs behind his pads, he pushes piles and that’s why he’s here.”
By going up to the Pacific Northwest, he’s also going to be about as close as possible to where he played college football, the University of Oregon. That just gives him one more reason to look forward to Saturday.
“I might have a few of the guys from the football team come up to watch the game,” he said. “I’ll be playing against a lot of our former players – (defensive end) Nick Reed, (offensive lineman) Max Unger and (cornerback) Walter Thurmond, all those guys – so it will be fun.”
• Rookie wide receiver Damian Williams and second-year safety Nick Schommer were activated from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list and took part in Wednesday’s workout. It was first time either participated.
“That worked out well,” Fisher said. “Both of them have a chance to play this weekend.”
Only two players, defensive tackle Tony Brown and linebacker David Thornton, remain on PUP.
• The team got relatively good news on defensive end William Hayes, who was diagnosed with an MCL strain in his right knee. Hayes was injured during Tuesday’s workout and the team initially feared the worst.
“It might be a couple weeks, but when you consider that when you have that kind of injury on the practice field and upon immediate examination (the fear) is that you have an ACL involved,” Fisher said. “With a mild MCL sprain, they’ll keep him off a couple weeks and that’s good news.”
• One player who is not likely to see much action in the preseason is quarterback Kerry Collins. A 15-year veteran, he has little to prove at this time of year.
“I think of the four quarterbacks, he’ll probably play the least—especially in the first couple of weeks,” Fisher said.