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Titans sticking with 'two starters' at running back

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Heading into Week 13, the Tennessee Titans find themselves atop the AFC South at 7-4 and in the third seed in the conference. The franchise is on pace for its first double-digit win total since 2008.

But something isn't quite right with the Titans. Their point differential is -27, the lowest of an division-leading team. Tennessee is barely beating mid- to lower-tier teams as of late; they topped the Browns, Ravens, Bengals and Colts (.318 combined) by an average of 3.5 points in their last four wins. Worst of all, the Titans' supposed identity, a smashmouth ground attack, is nowhere to be found.

Tennessee has only eclipsed 100 yards on the ground in two of the last eight games. In 2016, the Titans did so in 12 of their 16 contests.

Contributing to this malaise is DeMarco Murray's lack of production. The veteran running back is averaging 3.5 yards per carry on the season and hasn't eclipsed 50 yards on the ground since Week 7. Hampered by his hamstring, Murray has seen his backfield buddy Derrick Henry find way more production. Henry is averaging 4.6 yards per carry, and over the past three games, is averaging 5.26.

Despite the younger back's better statistics, Titans coach Mike Mularkey insists that Tennessee is not ready to move on from Murray and crown Henry as the starter.

"It's worked out just fine. I think we have two starters," Mularkey said of the Titans' running game. "If somebody wants to line up on the first play of the game to justify this guy as a starter, that's not something we're worried about. They're both really good at what they do."

Murray has played roughly 66 percent of Tennessee's snaps, while Henry has partaken in 38 percent. But might that change? Henry was on the field for 55.2 percent of the Titans' offensive snaps in last week's win over the Colts, while Murray's snap percentage dipped to 53.4.

On tape, Murray's role is that of a space-eater. He runs straight into the line, struggling to gain more yardage than he should. Henry, on the other hand, is an outside-the-tackles playmaker. Sometimes his outside bounces work, sometimes they don't, but the stats bear out his effect on the offense. While Murray is 44th among 45 qualifying running backs in yards after contact (1.43), Henry is second (2.76).

If Tennessee's running game continues to crawl, look for more carries to go Henry's way. Just don't expect the Titans to hint that they've officially passed the torch

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