Assessing Titans' RB room after offseason of change

The King has left the building in Tennessee, and now, for the first time since Derrick Henry was drafted in 2016, the Titans will need to form a running backs group that doesn’t include the big man from Yulee. One of the benefits of rostering Henry was that the need for depth was never that pressing as he led the league in carries in four of the last five years, only failing in 2021 due to injury. In 2024, Tennessee will need to take a bit of a closer look at its depth chart.

Running back Tyjae Spears #2 of the Tennessee Titans during OTA practice at the Ascension Saint Thomas Sports Park on May 20, 2024 in Nashville, TN. Photo By Donald Page/Tennessee Titans

The top of the room is clear: last year’s third-round pick Tyjae Spears will be joined by free-agent signing Tony Pollard as a 1A-1B duo in the backfield. In his rookie season, Spears spelled Henry with 100 carries for 453 rushing yards and two touchdowns, adding 52 catches, 385 yards, and another score through the air. This was the biggest performance by an RB2 in Nashville since Dion Lewis joined Henry in 2018 as the two took over for DeMarco Murray.

Pollard joins the Titans after five years in Dallas, four of which saw him tied to the hip of Ezekiel Elliott. After leading the team with career highs of 1,007 yards to go along with nine rushing touchdowns and 371 receiving yards with three more scores, Pollard was finally given the opportunity to lead the running backs group in Dallas last year. While he nearly matched his prior year numbers with 1,005 rushing yards, six touchdowns and 311 receiving yards, it was accomplished in a much less efficient manner as Pollard recorded career lows in yards per carry and yards per reception.

After appearing to struggle in the lead role last year, Pollard returns to a comfortable pairing, this time with Spears. It will be interesting to see how the two are utilized exactly, but Tennessee has two strong options. Another interesting aspect of training camp will be how the team addresses the depth behind Spears and Pollard.

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Right now, two third-year backs, Hassan Haskins and Julius Chestnut, are battling for the RB3 role. Haskins has 25 carries for 93 yards to his name in the NFL, while Chestnut has nine for 12. Through the air, Haskins has more receptions (10) and yards (57) than Chestnut (3-41), but Chestnut appears to be more dynamic receiving out of the backfield. Neither back recorded an offensive stat last year as Haskins dealt with legal and health issues and Chestnut played only on special team.

Haskins and Chestnut are joined in the offseason competition by two undrafted free agents in Dillon Johnson and Jabari Small. Both Johnson and Small bring strong college resumes with them, but a lack of experience will likely hold them out of the roster battle for now.

Both Haskins and Pollard are strong special teams contributors, and that may be what decides the RB3 job. If both players have a strong enough camp, there’s a chance the team holds on to four rushers on the 53-man roster, but likely they are competing for one spot behind Spears and Pollard.