The Tennessee Titans moved on from their thunder-and-thunder backfield and mixed in some lightning for 2018.
Gone is DeMarco Murray, who teamed up with Derrick Henry the past two seasons. Imported is shifty pass-catching back Dion Lewis, who was the New England Patriots' lead tailback last season. At this stage, the Henry-Lewis combo appears headed for a near-even split of reps.
"Until you get the pads on and really get going through preseason, I look at them both as 1A and 1B," new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur said Tuesday, via The Tennessean. "I feel confident in both of those guys. They both bring a little bit different qualities to what they do. But I think we've got two really good backs that we're excited about."
LaFleur's comment foreshadows a committee approach -- sorry Fantasy Footballers. On paper, it'd appear that Henry, the former Heisman-winning bulldozer, would take the early downs and churn the clock late in wins, with Lewis playing the third-down and pass-catching role.
Don't count out Lewis carving out a larger role than simply being a satellite back. The jitterbug proved last season he could be the primary back working between the tackles. The versatility Lewis brings to the table meshes with what LaFleur wants from his offense.
"First of all, it really all starts with our run game and having plays that play off our run game," LaFleur said. "I think that's how we're going to try to have a strong marriage between the run and the pass, so that to a defense it might look like, 'Oh, here comes another run,' and it's a play-action pass off that run or whatnot."
That dual-threat desire could lead to Lewis staying on the field more once the pads come on. It's notable LaFleur came from a system last season in Los Angeles in which Todd Gurley rarely came off the field. LaFleur also worked in Atlanta, however, and watched Kyle Shanahan juggle two different types of backs -- Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.
Regardless of who gets most of the touches, the new Henry-Lewis duo is much more complementary than the previous iterations of Tennessee's backfield. The duality will only be good for Marcus Mariota's development.