Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Greene one of Titans' top question marks
By Paul Kuharsky
On a team with plenty of question marks, perhaps only quarterback Jake Locker ranks as a bigger name than running back Shonn Greene.
The Titans were hard hit with criticism a year ago for giving the lumbering Greene a three-year, $10 million deal with $4.5 million guaranteed. Some of it was from me.
The Titans are counting on RB Shonn Greene to contribute from the backfield in 2014.
They viewed Greene as a great complementary back to Chris Johnson, with CJ as the home-run hitter and Greene a capable short-yardage guy. And they knew they were probably a year away from parting with Johnson.
Even a year ago, Greene’s new deal ranked as a big contract for a running back lacking any super-special quality. And given the free-agent market for running backs in 2014, it looks even worse now.
Greene hurt a knee in the opener, missed five games, was never himself and contributed very little in his first season with the team. He’s had offseason surgery on the same knee and is out until camp.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt said this week Greene should be in good position come camp, ready to put the injury behind him and take his share of reps to contribute.
If that’s the case, he’ll get more touches in some games over others, depending on matchups and game plans.
Greene can be a valuable piece if he’s able to extend drives with short-yardage conversions while helping save the other two guys from the punishment that comes with those sorts of runs up the gut.
This offensive line should be better at blocking for the needed yard and he’s got a good history of getting it when the Jets were very good at helping create the space. (The Titans had no faith in their ability to do so last year. Remember the end of the Arizona game and the opportunity to convert for 2 points from the 1-yard line to win it? They didn't even consider trying.)
Key conversions that extend key drives may not make him worth the contract, but they will have great value.
If he doesn’t get them, Greene’s deal will almost certainly rank at the bottom of the list for the ones general manager Ruston Webster and his front office have negotiated for free agents who’ve come to Nashville.