NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee’s decision to release veteran Shonn Greene kicks the Titans’ youth movement at running back into full gear.
Greene had stayed away from the Titans’ offseason program until the start of the team’s three-day mandatory minicamp on Tuesday. He showed up, passed his physical and then was released with one year left on his contract at $3.25 million.
That leaves the Titans with Bishop Sankey and Dexter McCluster among the running backs with NFL experience in that group.
They drafted running back David Cobb and fullback Jalston Fowler in May, and Antonio Andrews was undrafted last year.
“One of the reasons is we felt good about the group,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “I mean the young guys have looked good, and we felt that was the direction we wanted to go this time. We’ll see how they progress in camp.”
Greene is the running back who had the most experience on this roster. He ran for more than 1,000 yards in both 2011 and 2012 with the New York Jets before signing a three-year contract with Tennessee in 2013.
Injuries limited Greene to 11 games in his first season with the Titans, and he ran for only 392 yards with two touchdowns in 13 games last season in Whisenhunt’s first season here. The six-year veteran has run for 4,110 yards in his career with 24 touchdowns.
Whisenhunt said this was the first chance for Greene to take a physical and expects the veteran to get a look from another team.
“He’s in good shape,” Whisenhunt said. “He was very professional, very gracious. It’s never easy. But I certainly respect the way he handled himself, and I wish him the best.”
The Titans started their transition at that spot last season with Sankey, the second-round draft pick out of Washington He started nine of the 16 games he played as a rookie. Sankey led the Titans with 569 yards rushing, and he’s been around all offseason to learn this offense well.
“It was unfortunate,” Sankey said of Greene being released. “He’s a great guy, great running back. I learned a lot from him last year just from his example. I’m sure he’ll get picked up by another team. It’s just really kind of up to the guys in the locker room to pick up the slack, keep trying to get better … and I think we’ve done that so far.”
McCluster is going into his sixth NFL season, but he’s primarily been a threat catching passes and returning punts. He has only 192 rushing attempts for 793 yards in his career, and the Titans handed off to him only 40 times last season.
That’s why the Titans drafted Cobb in the fifth round out of Minnesota and Fowler in the fourth round out of Alabama. Cobb had been limited by a hamstring this offseason, but he took some snaps at running back Tuesday along with Fowler.
Whisenhunt said the 5-foot-10, 225-pound Andrews has stood out this offseason. Andrews signed as an undrafted free agent last year after he ran for 3,674 yards at Western Kentucky, averaging 5.9 yards per carry.
“So I feel like we got a good young group there, and we want to get them as many reps as we can,” Whisenhunt said.