NASHVILLE, Tenn. — DeMarco Murray looks reborn in Tennessee, his third team in as many seasons.
Not that the running back ever doubted himself.
“I know what type of player I am,” Murray said Thursday. “That’s all that matters to me.”
Murray, and the Titans, may have been among the last believers in the man who was the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2014 after running for 1,845 yards with the Dallas Cowboys.
The Titans have been happy with Murray, who is coming off his best game yet. He ran for 114 yards on 16 carries in last week’s 17-10 loss to Oakland, and Murray also caught five passes for 41 yards. Murray had only one 100-yard rushing performance in 15 games in Philadelphia.
Tennessee officials thought Murray would be a perfect fit for coach Mike Mularkey because his offense features so many runs similar to what helped the running back perform so well in Dallas.
“That’s kind of what got us energized to go get him,” Titans offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie said. “We felt the runs he had and the carries he had, kind of fit us pretty good.”
Even though the Titans also drafted Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry out of Alabama in the second round, the six-year veteran Murray gets the bulk of the work.
Murray ranks eighth in the NFL with 245 yards rushing, had the third-longest run this season on a 67-yarder in a 16-15 win at Detroit on Sept. 18 and leads all running backs with 17 receptions.
Murray will have a chance to run in Texas again Sunday when the Titans (1-2) visit the Houston Texans (2-1). Murray ran for 136 yards in his only game against Houston in 2014. He also caught six passes for 56 yards that day.
The running back credits his comfort level with what the Titans are asking him to do for his success so far.
“These are plays I’ve ran since I’ve been in the league, and these are plays that I like,” Murray said. “I think whenever I get a chance to go downhill, get in space I’m a little good at doing that.”
Murray broke off a 36-yarder in the loss to Oakland trying to rally the Titans, and Mularkey took the running back out of the game to give him a quick break.
“I could see the look on his face was like, ‘Don’t ever do that again …,'” Mularkey said.
“And that’s kind of been his history. He’s a good runner from the beginning, but he definitely got stronger in that game. He was making a lot of yards after contact, a lot of yards.”
After a career-high 392 carries in his last season with Dallas, Murray finished with only 193 carries for 702 yards under Chip Kelly in Philadelphia for his worst season playing more than 10 games.
The Titans reworked Murray’s contract as part of the trade bringing him to Tennessee. Murray also did his homework on a franchise that had won only five games the past two seasons combined.
He liked the veterans the team already had on the roster in tight end Delanie Walker and linebacker Brian Orakpo.
Walker sees a kindred player in Murray.
“We knew he was a playmaker on other teams and able to take over the game when we need him, and that’s why we’re here,” Walker said. “I knew DeMarco had that in him all along.”
Notes: Walker (right hamstring) and LG Quinton Spain (ankle) were limited in practice Thursday along with WR Tajae Sharpe (hamstring). WR Kendall Wright (left hamstring) practiced fully for a second straight day.
Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker