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Mularkey isn't worried DeMarco Murray will wear down

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After DeMarco Murray carried a heavy load in 2016, it's a natural thought heading into 2017 that Derrick Henry would see a larger portion of snaps.

Barring injury, that might not happen at the rate many expect. Speaking Tuesday at the Annual League Meeting, coach Mike Mularkey reiterated that he plans on Murray remaining the workhorse and isn't worried about last season's load affecting him this year.

"He's very well-conditioned, even with his toe (injury) last year you look at him and he was still pretty effective," Mularkey said of Murray, via the team's official website. "Obviously he's a tough guy, he fits our style, as Derrick does. I'm not worried about wearing him down."

Last season Murray earned 293 carries and 346 total touches (21.6 touches per game). Henry saw just 123 touches (8.2 touches per game) with 110 carries.

The last time Murray played 16 games and touched the ball more than 300 times was his Offensive Player of the Year season in 2014 -- when he had 449 touches. After that monster season, the now 29-year-old's legs looked tired, and he was a poor fit in Chip Kelly's offense in Philadelphia leading to a disastrous 2015.

Mularkey doesn't believe a similar cliff is coming for Murray this season. While the back did show some signs of slowing as the season progressed last year, it was nothing like the end of 2014 which bled into the next season. The straight-ahead power game run by the Titans also gives us faith that Murray won't suffer a similar disintegration he saw in Philly.

We expect Henry to eat into Murray's carries more this season, but Mularkey suggests it won't be as close to a timeshare as we might have thought.

"I think everyone wants Derrick to have a bigger role, including Derrick," Mularkey said. "We'll see how that unfolds. (But) I've said it before: DeMarco Murray is our No. 1 back. He is our workhorse and you saw that he is capable of doing that and being very effective.

"Derrick is a good No. 2 player for us right now, with his role, with what he did. I thought he was effective every time he got to play, especially for a rookie. And I understand it is hard to come in as a second back. It is hard to get into a flow. But when he had to play, he was very effective."

The Titans will benefit from having two similar power backs. Mularkey can essentially run Murray until the wheels fall off and then turn to Henry without changing the offense.

For a rising team that should battle for the AFC South title in 2017, having both Murray and Henry available to tote the rock -- especially with the QB coming off injury -- is a boon, regardless of which starts out as the "workhorse."

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