Dose: Titans to Split RB Load?

Nick Mensio
Nick Mensio discusses the Titans' RB situation, the Texans' RB situation and plenty of injury updates in Thursday's Dose

Dose: Titans to Split RB Load?

Nick Mensio discusses the Titans' RB situation, the Texans' RB situation and plenty of injury updates in Thursday's Dose

Happy Halloween, kiddos!

Addressing the media Wednesday, coach Mike Munchak said he wants to get Chris Johnson 20 carries per game and Shonn Greene 15 carries per game “if all goes well.” The Titans have been hyping Greene ever since they overpaid him to the tune of three years and $10 million back in March. After the signing was announced, Munchak said Greene reminded him of former Titans great Eddie George. Munchak obviously didn’t watch much of Greene’s tape from his Jets days. Greene had a pedestrian preseason before injuring his knee in the season opener. He underwent a knee scope and returned to action in Week 7. Greene now appears to be 100 percent coming out of the Week 8 bye. But he’s still carried the rock just five times for 20 yards this season. At this point, it would be nice to see him get five carries in a game, let alone 15. Seeing is believing. But let’s have some fun here.

Johnson has been struggling mightily running the ball the past four games, failing to eclipse 40 yards on the ground in any of those contests and averaging 2.39 YPC on his last 46 totes. Munchak wants to get Johnson 20 carries per game, yet CJ2K hasn’t received 20 carries in a game since Week 2. His weekly carry totals have been in decline ever since. After taking 25 handoffs in each of the first two games, Johnson took it 19 times in Week 3, 15 in Week 4, ten in Week 5, 12 in Week 6 and nine in Week 7. He’s turned into a back-end RB2 and even that may be generous.

However, it sounds as if the Titans are pushing the idea of a near-even timeshare between Johnson and Greene moving forward. It would seem that Greene is the favorite to handle early-down, short-yardage, and goal-line work, while Johnson takes the passing-down, hurry-up, and two-minute reps. We’ll get our first look at the tandem Sunday against the Rams. It’s going to be hard to trust either player as anything more than a flex option in Week 9. Johnson owners need to hang tight and hope his receptions increase since that’s where Johnson has been doing his damage lately. Greene needs to be owned in all formats.

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News Nugget #2

Speaking Wednesday, coach Gary Kubiak reiterated he anticipates Arian Foster (hamstring) and Ben Tate (ribs) being game-time decisions for Sunday Night Football against the Colts.

“Arian went out and stretched, did some stuff and did some walkthrough," Kubiak said. "And then he worked with the trainers. I think he’s going to do everything he can to be there. [Tate] practiced, kind of like a trial run going through the week seeing how he’s going to feel. But he took his normal reps with what we did today.”

Foster injured his hamstring early in the Week 7 loss at Kansas City. Tate broke four ribs in the same game. Both running backs earned “limited” tags for Wednesday’s practice, though Tate did more than Foster. It’s too early to tell whether Foster is going to suit up this week. But John McClain of the Houston Chronicle believes Tate has a good chance to play. The Texans can apply extra padding to Tate’s torso area, allowing him to go out there and take hits. It’s fair to question just how effective he can be playing that way, though.

If both running backs are forced to sit out, the Texans will go with a committee approach between Ray Graham, Deji Karim, and Dennis Johnson. All three were with the Texans during the summer and preseason. Karim was the most impressive of the bunch in exhibition action. Plus, he’s a veteran. Graham was promoted from the practice squad earlier this week. Johnson was a part of final cuts. He was scooped up by the Browns and stashed on the practice squad. Houston signed him away Monday. Smart money would be on Karim or Graham leading the backfield in touches. Tate expects to play, though. He’d be a middling RB2 option for Week 9. Foster seems to have the longest odds. We’ll have plenty of updates on this situation as the week rolls on.

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News Nugget #3

As I’ve done in previous weeks, I’ll use this third news nugget section to check in on a handful of key injured players around the league.

Marshawn Lynch (knee) didn’t practice Wednesday. He had been listed on the injury report with a hip issue in recent weeks. The knee injury is a new one and is something to keep an eye on and monitor throughout the week. Coach Pete Carroll didn’t address the topic in his presser with the media. There’s been zero indication Lynch is dealing with a serious injury. He did receive just eight carries Monday night. Beast Mode has a favorable matchup at home against the Bucs this week. After he was noticeably frustrated with his lack of touches Monday, look for the Seahawks to feed him plenty against Tampa.

Zac Stacy (ankle) was “very limited” in Wednesday’s practice. He didn’t even do enough to earn a “limited” designation for the day; he got a “DNP.” On a short week, Stacy’s status for the Week 9 home tilt against a soft Titans run defense is up in the air. All we know is that the rookie is dealing with some sort of sprain. It’s been reported that Stacy has avoided a high-ankle sprain. If Stacy can’t go against the Titans, Daryl Richardson would get the start. Benny Cunningham and Isiah Pead would fight for leftovers.

Thad Lewis (ribs) missed practice Wednesday. Lewis was leveled by Saints linebacker David Hawthorne on the opening play of last week’s loss. Lewis lay on the turf for several minutes before eventually being helped off. He’s clearly feeling the after-effects of taking multiple shots in that game. Lewis is also dealing with the flu. Profootballtalk reported late Wednesday night that Lewis is expected to suit up this week against the Chiefs. He may miss another practice Thursday, but the Bills need him to go.

Roddy White (ankle, hamstring) remained sidelined Wednesday. Coach Mike Smith said it’s too early to tell whether White will play Sunday against the Panthers. He hasn’t played since October 7. We’ll learn more Thursday and Friday. If White can’t go, Harry Douglas and Drew Davis will start on the outside.

Nick Foles (concussion) has been fully cleared of his Week 7 concussion and will start this Sunday against the Raiders. He’s not as bad as he played against the Cowboys. Foles is a legitimate QB2 option this week in a plus matchup. In five appearances this season, Foles has accounted for seven touchdowns and hasn’t turned the ball over.

Quarterback/Running Back Slants

Sam Bradford (torn left ACL) will undergo knee surgery next Tuesday with Dr. James Andrews. … The Rams confirmed Kellen Clemens will start this week against the Titans. … The Vikings are expected to start Josh Freeman against the Cowboys this week. … Jonathan Stewart (ankles) said he expects to play this week. He took the majority of the first-team reps on Wednesday with DeAngelo Williams (quad) sidelined. … Mark Ingram (toe) has been removed from the injury report. … Jamaal Charles (knee) did not practice. It was likely more of a rest day for the workhorse back. … Bernard Pierce (hamstring) practiced and said he feels better. … DeMarco Murray (knee) practiced. … C.J. Spiller (ankle) was limited Wednesday. He conceded he’s “definitely not back to normal, yet.” Fred Jackson (knee) did not practice. Jackson is in no danger of missing Week 9. … Shane Vereen (wrist) returned to practice Wednesday. He’s eligible to return following the Week 10 bye.

Wide Receiver/Tight End Slants

Santonio Holmes (hamstring) is not expected to play this week. Stephen Hill (foot) did not practice. … Dwayne Bowe (groin) is practicing in full this week. … The Lions placed Ryan Broyles (torn Achilles’) on injured reserve. … Seattle placed Sidney Rice (torn ACL) on injured reserve. Jermaine Kearse will start in his place until Percy Harvin is ready. … Greg Jennings (knee) didn’t practice Wednesday. He should play Sunday. … Stevie Johnson (hip) didn’t practice. He expects to return to the field Thursday and play Sunday. … Pierre Garcon (calf) was limited Wednesday. There’s nothing to see here. … Mohamed Sanu (shoulder) is questionable for Thursday night. … Percy Harvin (hip) did not practice Wednesday. He suffered a setback last Thursday and the team is being cautious with him. … Eddie Royal (foot) missed practice. … DeSean Jackson (ankle) was limited. He’s in no danger of missing Sunday. … Danny Amendola (groin), Julian Edelman (thigh) and Rob Gronkowski (hamstring, forearm, back) were all limited Wednesday. The hamstring is new for Gronkowski, but we have no reason to believe he’ll miss Sunday’s game. … Jimmy Graham (foot) and Kenny Stills (knee) were limited on Wednesday. Marques Colston (knee) didn’t practice. … Jeff Cumberland (concussion) is expected to miss Week 9. The Jets have a Week 10 bye.

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