DeMarco Murray only wants win in Titans’ season finale
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — DeMarco Murray has a chance to lead the AFC in rushing with a strong performance Sunday in Tennessee’s season finale. The veteran running back even has been mentioned as a possible candidate for NFL Comeback Player of the Year — two years after he was voted the league’s offensive player of the year.
Murray said he only wants one thing Sunday when he walks off the field: A win.
“I just wanted to be a guy that I know I can be,” Murray said Thursday. “Just running hard and lead these guys best I can, and I think I did that for the most part. Those sorts of things I never really pay attention to. If it happens, it happens. If not, no biggie.”
A year ago, the only thing certain about Murray was that Philadelphia did not suit him. Chip Kelly was fired going into the final game, and the Eagles traded Murray in March , dumping the big contract that had lured the running back away from Dallas in March 2015. Tennessee got Murray for the price of switching 13 spots in the fourth round and revised contract.
Murray has delivered for the Titans, turning in a season second only to the performance that won him the 2014 NFL Offensive Player of the Year award.
Going into Sunday’s finale against Houston (9-7), Murray ranks second in the AFC behind only Le’Veon Bell of Pittsburgh with 1,266 yards with nine touchdowns. He ranks third in the NFL behind Dallas rookie Ezekiel Elliott and Bell, while Murray also has 52 catches for 379 yards and three more TDs. With 1,645 yards from scrimmage, he also ranks fourth in the NFL in that category.
Murray has five 100-yard rushing games this season, and he also ran for a TD in five straight games to tie the franchise record held by Earl Campbell (1979).
He is why the Titans rank third in the NFL in rushing yards per game after ranking 25th a year ago. Tennessee last finished a season inside the top 10 in 2009 when Chris Johnson ran for 2,006 yards.
Murray will face a stern challenge Sunday. Houston leads the NFL allowing only 68 yards rushing per game since Week 8. Texans linebacker Brian Cushing called Murray one of the best running backs in the league backed up by rookie Derrick Henry.
“Two very good running backs that you have to know at all times where they are on the field and know that they turn short plays that you think are nothing into big plays,” Cushing said.
The Titans’ chances at their first playoff berth since 2008 ended last weekend, and Murray said that was his only expectation this season.
“We had a chance to do something special this year, and we didn’t accomplish that,” Murray said.
That leaves finishing with a win over the division champs and a winning record up for grabs.
“That guy wants to win more than anyone I’ve ever known,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said.
Notes: CB Jason McCourty (chest) returned to practice Thursday but was limited. LB Sean Spence (illness), TE Jace Amaro (quad) and CB LeShaun Sims (concussion) practiced fully. CB D’Joun Smith (illness) did not practice.
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