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DeMarco Murray eager to do more in Titans' offense

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  • By Jeremy Bergman NFL.com
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Expectations are high in Nashville, as Marcus Mariota enters his third season in the pros with the most stacked supporting cast of his young career.

Over the offseason, the Tennessee Titans signed veteran slot man Eric Decker and added wideouts Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor and tight end Jonnu Smith in the draft, giving Mariota the bounty of talented young targets that he's lacked so far in the pros.

One drawback to the improvements in the pass game is that they could cut into DeMarco Murray's carries, a concern that the veteran tailback addressed Friday as the Titans reported to camp.

"When you think of some of the great running backs, they've played well into their 30s," Murray said, per The Tennessean. "I pride myself on taking care of my body, not just during the season but yearly, and I know what it takes to withstand a full 16-game stretch in this league. And it's a grind. But I enjoy it. I embrace it. And I'm excited about it.

"I'm very confident in my abilities and my work ethic to make sure I'm physically prepared to withstand whatever they want, whatever they ask me to do here. Hopefully it's a lot more, and we'll see from there."

Behind one of the league's more unsung offensive lines, Murray had a resurgent season in 2016, rushing for 1,287 yards on 293 carries, pacing the NFL's third-ranked rushing offense and earning his third Pro Bowl nod. His first year in Nashville was a return to form for Murray, who carried the load in Dallas -- to his later detriment -- in 2014 when he carried the ball 392 times.

But could Murray see even more carries than he had in 2016, as he hopes? Unlikely. On Murray's heels is second-year tailback Derrick Henry, who is looking to improve on a fine rookie season (627 total yards, five TDs on 123 touches) and should see more attention. Plus, if the Titans are to develop into a healthier, more balanced offense and contend with the AFC stalwarts on a weekly basis, they will have to lean more on Mariota than Murray.

There are a lot of targets to go around in Tennessee. Regardless of who sees them -- Murray or otherwise -- the Titans offense should be one of the most fun units to watch develop in 2017.

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