The Titans are looking to Shonne Greene to help revitalize a stagnant run game.
The run game Titans coaches pledged would be the backbone of the offense ranks 18th in the NFL -- averaging 108.3 yards a game and 3.7 yards a carry. Feature back Chris Johnson is averaging 3.1 yards and has not broken off a run longer than 23 yards.
Enter Greene, who injured his right knee in the season opener in Pittsburgh, missed five games and was barely on the field against San Francisco.
When they signed Greene to a three-year, $10 million contract the Titans believed Johnson and Greene would be great as a one-two punch. Greene was expected to get the bulk of short-yardage and goal line work. Instead it’s been Johnson and third-stringer Jackie Battle.
Hopefully for the rushing offense, Greene’s running style proves more assertive than his personality. He’s been very ho-hum in conversations I’ve had with him about getting back and making an impact. That, of course, doesn’t have to mean a thing.
He didn’t sound real fired up about opportunities to run inside against St. Louis on Sunday.
“I don’t know about inside runs because they changed their defense up and pretty much have eight in the box every play,” he said. “We watch film and when they played Seattle they had eight in the box pretty much the whole game, so it’s going to be tough to get inside. But we’ve got a couple things for them, so hopefully those schemes will work.
That’s hardly in sync with the team’s preseason insistence that the Titans would impose their will and believed they would be able to run against virtually anyone virtually anytime.
I would think a majority of power backs would talk about thinking they can get yards up the gut no matter the defense.
Perhaps he’s just offering us a realistic view.
Greene said St. Louis’ determination to use eight in the box came after they watched the 49ers run for 219 yards.
It’s not as if the Rams then became an invincible run defense. Houston ran for 153 yards. Carolina ran for 102. They had a good game against Seattle, allowing only 44 yards on Monday night.
Coach Mike Munchak spoke encouragingly about what Greene can add.
“He looks good out here,” Munchak said. “There’s no reason he can’t do whatever. If he had to carry it 20 times, he should be able to do that now. We’ll just have to, again, hope that we can get in a situation where we run the ball 35 times so that he can get touches.
"That’s what we need him to do to help him get in shape because he hasn’t had any [carries] since preseason really. He looks good, and that’s exactly how we hoped he would. He’s running hard in practice. We had a good day today, so I’m looking forward to him getting some opportunities."
The excuses are about up for the Titans run game.
They’ve got Brian Schwenke in place as their starting center for a second game. They’ve got their full compliment of running backs. They’ve got an opponent that can give up yards.
If they don’t gain ground yards in St. Louis and next week against winless Jacksonville, I don’t know why we should expect they’ll ever get them. And I don’t know how they could justify staying the philosophical course.