The Tennessee Titans hired Kennedy Pola as their new running backs on Monday, after having fired Earnest Byner over the weekend.
The team did not give a reason for Byner's firing and his dismissal was apparently done by phone, according to a league source. However, a Titans official indicated that Byner's firing did not take place via the telephone.
Byner’s dismissal comes at an odd time, considering that Chris Johnson became only the sixth running back in NFL history to reach 2,000 yards, finishing the season with 2,006 yards.
Johnson also had 503 yards receiving to set a new league record for yards from scrimmage in a season. Byner coached Jamal Lewis with the Baltimore Ravens during his 2,000-yard season in 2003. Ironically, that was Byner's last season with the Ravens, as he went coached the Washington Redskins' running backs from 2004-07.
Efforts to reach Byner for comment Monday were unsuccessful. But it was clear from Johnson’s accomplishment that he was proud of having a second 2,000-yard back under his tutelage and that he was especially proud of Johnson eclipsing Marshall Faulk’s yards from scrimmage record.
“I was with in Baltimore with Jamal when he went over 2,000,” Byner said. “So I’ve had some familiarity as far as dealing with some of it, but to do something that nobody else in the league has done, that right there speaks volumes for him and for us.”
Pola has spent the past five seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, having coached Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew.
“Kennedy is fine coach and I am very much looking forward to working with him to see the contributions that he can add to our staff,” said Titans head coach Jeff Fisher in a statement. “He did a great job with the running backs down in Jacksonville and he had an instrumental role in their run game.”
Byner spent just two seasons in Tennessee, replacing Sherman Smith after Smith became offensive coordinator of the Redskins.
“I want to thank Earnest for his time with us and his contributions. I also want to wish him well in his future endeavors,” Fisher said.