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David Cobb emerges as Titans' best option at RB

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Tennessee's new-look offense extends beyond the drafting and anointing of Marcus Mariota under center.

Along with rookie size-speed freak Dorial Green-Beckham at wide receiver, the Titans also beefed up their backfield with the addition of fifth-round runner David Cobb.

The former Minnesota star made an immediate impact in Friday's preseason debut, plowing through the Atlanta Falcons for a team-leading 53 yards off 11 carries. Cobb carried Tennessee's ground game in the third quarter, with a 4.8 yards per rush average that more than doubled Bishop Sankey's ineffectual 1.9 yards per tote.

Every game, all season

It's just one game, but Cobb has a legitimate shot to nab the team's No. 1 role before September.

After watching Cobb, Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt emphasized that he isn't married to a committee approach, pointing directly to the rookie's handiwork as the type of play that could earn him top duties -- maybe all by himself.

"I don't think we were necessarily a running back committee in the third quarter last night (with Cobb carrying the load)," said Whisenhunt, per ESPN.com. "That was a lot of what you would hope to envision we could run the ball like."

Cobb led all Titans backs with 19 snaps and vastly outplayed the hyper-underwhelming Sankey, leading Whiz to say that Cobb "deserves" first-team reps and a chance to show "if we can have that guy, not to be cliché, that's the bell cow."

NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah raved about Cobb over the summer, calling him a "sneaky Rookie of the Year candidate," and saying: "I'm a big fan of David Cobb. He's a really good player, just a hard runner and I think his game translates very well to the next level."

Not long after the draft, it was Whisenhunt who gushed over Cobb's "impressive" tape by calling him a "three-down back." Dexter McCluster is a logical fit to see passing-down snaps, but Cobb has the tools to take on a full workload.

It's just one game, but Game Pass (and the video package below) illustrates the rookie's downhill running style. While Trent Richardson's shaky vision became a Twitter sensation over the weekend, Cobb was decisive hitting the hole. He's also powerful enough to drag defenders for extra yardage, which the Falcons learned up close. At 5-foot-11 and 229 pounds, Cobb runs low to earth and isn't afraid of contact.

"Cobb has kind of shown what we saw from him at the Senior Bowl and in college, his ability to run the football, his vision and his feet," Titans general manager Ruston Webster recently said, per the team's offical website. "If he continues along that path he can help us."

His weakness is a lack of breakaway speed. Cobb's game isn't based around jaw-dropping quickness or lateral movement, making him a better fit for a physical ground game angling to beat teams up. We're not labeling him a supreme athlete, but Cobb's power-run style fits the Titans well.

"He can step right in and play because he runs tough and he knows how to pass protect," one AFC scout told Lance Zierlein before the draft. "His offensive line was bad, too. He's a way shiftier runner than he gets credit for."

It was encouraging to see Cobb's consistency against the Falcons, as his first five NFL runs went for 8, 8, 7, 6 and 6 yards. The rookie, though, believes he barely tapped into his abilities.

"I watched film, and there were some reads I missed," Cobb said, per the team's official website. "I felt like I could have broken some more tackles, and I went down too easy. There's a lot of room for improvement. ... What I really want to do is show (the Titans) that I can be a three-down back, stay on the field and block."

In Monday's Around the NFL "Fantasy Extravaganza" Podcast, we listed Cobb as one of our undervalued running backs heading into September. Watch the film and decide for yourself, but after one game, Cobb looks like the high-ceiling option in Tennessee's work-in-progress backfield.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast features the gang breaking down Jimmy Garoppolo's preseason debut and Ameer Abdullah's breakout game.

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