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Tennessee Titans seeking 'strong, physical runner'

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Working together for just over a month, Tennessee Titans new general manager Jon Robinson and coach Mike Mularkey have found common ground on the need for backfield help.

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"We want a strong, physical runner," Robinson said at the NFL Scouting Combine this week, via the Tennessean. "And when I say strong, that doesn't necessarily mean he's got to weigh 250 pounds. There's backs in this league that are maybe smaller in stature, but they're explosive and they're powerful backs, so when you do hand them the ball, they can make yards. They've got to be able to run between the tackles and grind out plays that way."

Robinson also cited ball security and pass protection as primary concerns at running back.

Bishop Sankey, the 54th overall selection in the 2014 draft, was long ago banished to the bench in no small part due to ball security issues. Speed-challenged Antonio Andrews led the team in rushing (520 yards) last season, but was benched in late December for fumbling. He also missed a blocking assignment that led to Marcus Mariota's season-ending knee injury.

The Titans' contingent passed on opportunities this week to confirm that 2015 fifth-round pick David Cobb is in line for a major role, which means they could address the position with the first pick in the second round (33rd overall) or the third round (64th overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft.

Robinson and Mularkey have made no secret of their plans for a smashmouth offensive attack going forward.

"The style of football that we're going to play," Robinson said Wednesday, "is downhill, run the football, be a physical football team."

From Mularkey's point of view, that style will help protect Mariota from further injuries while providing for more open looks in the passing game.

"Marcus will be a better quarterback if our run game gets going," Mularkey explained. "This offense is built around balance, and if the run game is not functioning like we want it to function, it's going to affect everything. It's going to affect our passing game, it's going to affect our defense, it's going to affect our team. So the running game, we've got to get it going."

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