Mularkey: DeMarco Murray 'loved' Derrick Henry pick

Tennessee Titans general manager Jon Robinson was describing Alabama running back Derrick Henry in late February when he said, "We want a strong, physical runner."

The surprise isn't that Henry landed in Nashville. It's that Henry was selected in the second round after Robinson traded for DeMarco Murray in March.

On the heels of a trying 2015 season in which he lost his job in Philadelphia, is Murray already casting a leery eye in Henry's direction?

Coach Mike Mularkey phoned Murray immediately after the Henry selection to ensure that wouldn't be the case.

"First of all, he loved the pick," Mularkey said of Murray, via the team's official website. "And he said, 'He's going to make me better and I am going to do the same for him.' He said, 'I'm going to do whatever I can to make him a great player."

Murray went on to welcome Henry and first-round right tackle Jack Conklin to the team with a Friday night Twitter message: "Load up the wagon boys! #titanup #gata welcome to the fam @KingHenry2@JackConklin74...."

Although plans tend to change from week-to-week throughout an episodic NFL season, Mularkey insists Murray is entrenched as the lead back.

"I told DeMarco, 'Nothing has changed since we made the trade for you. You're still going to be the guy who is going to carry the load for us and I know when you need to take a break and come off the field there will be no letdown when the next running back comes in, whoever that is'," Mularkey explained. "That is our mindset and I told him that directly not long after we made that pick, that he was clear with the direction we were going to go with it."

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."

While Murray and Henry both fit that description, their talents are not duplicative. Murray is an asset in the passing game while Henry offers "rare height/bulk for the position," per NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah's scouting report.

Whatever you may think of Mularkey's coaching chops, Robinson certainly deserves credit for procuring the personnel to suit his offensive staff's philosophy.

Adhering to Mularkey's power-running scheme will help protect promising franchise quarterbackMarcus Mariota from injuries while operating at a high level in a play-action offense ideally suited to his skill set.

"Marcus will be a better quarterback if our run game gets going," Mularkey said in February. "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."

Robinson and Mularkey have set Mariota up for success this offseason after watching his surrounding talent come up short last year.

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