NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — DeMarco Murray ran for a 71-yard touchdown and rookie Derrick Henry also scored and the Tennessee Titans’ new-look rushing attack delivered an impressive debut Saturday in a 27-10 preseason victory over the San Diego Chargers.
Murray, seeking a new start in Tennessee after struggling with Chip Kelly’s offense in Philadelphia last season, had six carries for 93 yards. Henry, the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner from Alabama, had 10 carries for 74 yards and a touchdown.
“I’d love to see that all season,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. “That’s what they’re capable of doing.”
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota played three series and went 5 of 5 for 45 yards, including a 31-yarder to rookie Tajae Sharpe. The Titans had a field goal on Mariota’s first series and capped his final drive with Murray’s touchdown.
Murray credited receivers Dorial Green-Beckham and Harry Douglas for delivering quality blocks on his big run. Murray easily broke safety Adrian Phillips’ attempted tackle on his way to the end zone.
Murray rushed for an NFL-leading 1,845 yards with the Dallas Cowboys in 2014, but flopped last season after the Eagles signed him to a five-year, $40 million contract with $21 million guaranteed. Murray
averaged 3.6 yards per carry and was benched late in the season.
The Titans acquired Murray by swapping fourth-round picks with the Eagles and giving him a new contract.
“At the end of the day, you go through ups and downs in your life and career,” Murray said. “It’s all about how you bounce back and how you have perseverance through things that don’t go your way. I’ve been blessed and lucky to be here as a Titan.”
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers played just one series and connected with Melvin Gordon on a 44-yard touchdown.
Rivers was 2 of 3 for 64 yards. After overthrowing Isaiah Burse deep, Rivers delivered a 20-yard completion to Keenan Allen on third-and-15. On the next play, Gordon caught a pass around the Tennessee 40 before running into the end zone.
Chargers: Kellen Clemens and Zach Mettenberger are competing for the backup quarterback spot. Clemens played most of the first half and went 9 of 16 for 96 yards. Mettenberger entered in the second half and was 2 of 8 for 22 yards with an interception.
Titans: Brian Schwenke, listed on the depth chart as the Titans’ second-team center, got some reps at left guard with the rest of the first-team offensive line during the second quarter. The Titans’ first-team left guard Saturday was Quinton Spain, who started Tennessee’s final six games last season. … The acquisitions of Murray and Henry leave 2014 second-round pick Bishop Sankey’s roster spot in doubt. Sankey had a 41-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Chargers: Tight end Hunter Henry had three catches for 43 yards. Drew Kaser, a sixth-round pick from Texas A&M, averaged 52.8 yards on five punts with two touchbacks. … Kenneth Farrow had a heavy workload in the second half and finished with 60 yards on 16 carries.
Titans: Kevin Byard, a third-round selection from Middle Tennessee, picked off Mettenberger’s pass in the third quarter. … Jack Conklin, a first-round pick from Michigan State, started at right tackle.
Chargers: Guard Orlando Franklin didn’t play after hurting his ankle in Thursday’s practice. Wide receivers Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams also didn’t play.
Titans: Sharpe was evaluated for a possible concussion late in the first quarter after catching two passes for 35 yards. …. Cornerback Perrish Cox didn’t play because of a twisted ankle.
Chargers: “As the game went on offensively, we had too many penalties,” coach Mike McCoy said. “Little penalties. We’d move the ball and then have a play and have something hurt us so we’re playing first-, second- or third-and-long. And defensively we’ve got to do a better job of stopping the run.”
Titans: “We definitely want to be a physical team, especially running the ball,” Henry said. “We want to be smash-mouth. … Today was a good day, with the O-line blocking and us running.”
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