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Titans to feature 'thunder and thunder' backfield

The amazing thing about DeMarco Murray's cringe-worthy 2015 season with the Philadelphia Eagles is that his number of carries (193) and total yards (702) and touchdowns (6) all would have led the Tennessee Titans, who struggled mightily on the ground last year.

Adding that production into the fold with rookie Derrick Henry has some Titans players hopeful -- especially those on defense who are hoping the offense can cut down on three-and-outs and save their legs a bit.

"I think he's going to win a lot of those one-on-one battles," Titans safety Rashad Johnson told the Tennessean of Henry. "So him and DeMarco Murray going back and forth, it's going to be a nice thunder and thunder combination."

The "Thunder and Thunder" concept of pairing two downhill runners in a zone offense also reminds us of Philadelphia last year (yes, we know not all of Philly's plays were zone plays and that most teams run some form of zone concept blocking). Murray and Henry, like Murray and Ryan Mathews, are both over six feet tall and known for their north-south running style. Chip Kelly loved the idea of minimizing lost yardage and the increased risk of non-contact injuries sustained by more lateral backs. In theory, the "power spread" should have negated a lot of the issues Kelly's defense had with quick drives on offense.

So could the Titans make it work? Their version features a more robust version of "Thunder and Thunder." Tennessee offensive linemen Ben Jones did not even realize that the 6-foot-3, 250-pound running back was an offensive player.

"I saw him like his first day of camp at Alabama," Jones said on Wednesday, via the team's official site. "My brother was the strength coach there. So I was up talking to him and I was like, 'Who is this linebacker here?' I think (Henry) was 17 at the time and I was like, 'Goodness gracious.'"

Now, Henry is 21 and coming off a season in college during which he scored 28 touchdowns en route to the Heisman Trophy.

There are endless lukewarm takes about the value of the power running game as it pertains to developing quarterbacks, and with Tennessee adding a third first-round pick to their offensive line, there's probably something to be said about a powerful unit in construction. The truth is that it never works out as planned, and head coach Mike Mularkey needs to figure out a way to put a lot of these intriguing pieces together in the right way.

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