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Titans RB depth chart: Adrian Peterson, Jeremy McNichols lead Tennessee running backs after Derrick Henry’s injury

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The Titans have had one of the most lopsided running back rotations in the league the last three seasons. Derrick Henry led the NFL in carries, rushing yards and rushing TDs in 2019 and 2020 and was on pace to do it again in 2021.

But now, he’s hurt. He is dealing with a broken bonein his right footthatwill likely end his season.

Henry has handled 219 carries this season for the Titans. Other running backs that have played for Tennessee have just11 on the season. He has accounted for nearly 80 percent of the Titans’ rushing yards this season and has vastly outgained other backs on the roster.

MORE: Titans’ 12 best trade candidates to replace Derrick Henry

The question now is, who will step up and replace Henry? They have some internal options, but the top one 2020 third-round pick Darrynton Evans landed on IR for a second time before Sunday’s game and isout for the season as a result.

That’s part of the reason the Titans immediately brought in some external help. Tennesseesigned 36-year-old veteran Adrian Peterson to its practice squad with plans to elevate him to the active roster. He will have a chance to compete for carry right away in the Titans’ backfield rotation.

Here’s a look at what the Titans have at the running back position with Henry’s season likely over.

Titans RB depth chart

1. Adrian Peterson

He may be new to the Titans, but Tennessee acted very quickly to sign Peterson after working him out. The 36-year-old veteran is in his 15th season but has still proven that he can be an effective part of a rotation.

Last season, Peterson totaled 604 yards and seven rushing touchdowns for the Lions. He averaged just 3.9 yards per carry, but the more important thing is that he was able to average 10 carries per game. He can still be an effective part of a rotation and still retains some of his explosive playmaking ability.

At 6-1, 220 pounds, Peterson is the largest of Tennessee’s true running backs and will likely be asked to shoulder a good chunk of the workload between the tackles. He won’t come close to Henry’s 30 touches per game, but getting close to 15 will probably be his goal as he leads this back-by-committee approach.

2. Jeremy McNichols

McNichols was the only healthy running back on the Titans’ 53-man roster in wake of Henry’s injury before Peterson’s signing. The team was carrying two backs on the roster and two on the practice squad after placing Evans on IR. While Peterson figures to eventually emerge as a starter, McNichols will still play a significant role with Henry out.

Henry played about 71 percent of the Titans’ snaps before his injury. McNichols, a fifth-year pro, ranks second among the team’s running backs and has played just over 25 percent of the snaps. He has carried the ball seven times for 38 yards and has a career yards per carry average of 4.4.

That said, McNichols’ biggest role figures to be as a receiver out of the backfield. He has caught 21 passes for 203 yards and a touchdown this season. That’s good for the second-most receiving yards on the Titans and that includes an eight-catch, 74-yard outing against the Jets in Week 4.

The 5-9, 205-pound back certainly isn’t the same between the tackles weapon as Henry, but he should give the Titans a more potentreceiving option out of the backfield. He’ll work as a good foil to Peterson and could see more carries early during AP’s first weeks with the Titans.

MORE: Details on Derrick Henry’s potential season-ending injury

3. Dontrell Hilliard

Hilliard signed with the Titans on Oct. 27. He was originally added to the practice squad for additional depth in wake of Evans’ injury. He could be promoted to the active roster as the team’s No. 3 back after Henry’s injury.

Hilliard (5-11, 202 pounds) came into the NFL in 2018 as a free agent out of Tulane. The Browns employed him as a backup and return man during his nearly three-year stintin Cleveland. In 30 games with the Browns, Hilliard racked up 97 yards rushing and two TDs on 22 carries. He caught 22 passes for 199 yards as well.

For the Titans, Hilliard represents a depth option with years of NFL experience and a bit of in-game action. That may give him the edge over the team’s other practice squad player, even if Hilliard is the more recent signee.

4. D’Onta Foreman

The Titans initially had Mekhi Sargent as their fourth option on the practice squad, but they opted to add more experience to help replace Henry.

Foreman continues to tour the AFC South. He has played for the Texans, Colts and Titans during his career as well as the Falcons. He actually played six games for Tennessee last season and racked up 95 rushing yards on 22 carries. He’s a big back at 6-1, 236 pounds, so perhaps they brought him back to serve as a backup power runner.

Foreman may not see much playing time for the Titans, but perhaps they’ll alternate giving him and Hilliard a try. Foreman has been in the Titans’ system before so that could give him an edge on any competition for a third-string role. He and Hilliard are very close in the pecking order and they could alternate weeks as the No. 3 back, depending on the matchup.

FANTASY FOOTBALL: Breaking down Jeremy McNichols’ fantasy outlook

5. Khari Blasingame

Blasingame is a fullback for the Titans and has been with the team since the midpoint of the 2019 season when he was signed off the Vikings’ practice squad. He played running back at Vanderbilt but has bulked up into a 6-0, 233-pound blocker during his pro career.

Blasingame has never logged a carry in 27 career games, but he is the biggest remaining back that the Titans have. As such, he could see an occasional short-yardage carry out of the I-formation. He has eight catches for 93 yards in his career as well, so don’t be surprised if you hear him get the ball on occasion with the Titans looking to replace nearly 30 touches per game.

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Lakers superstar LeBron James doesn’t feel suspension was warranted for altercation with Isaiah Stewart

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Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James doesn’t believe a suspension was warranted for his involvement in the altercation with Detroit big man Isaiah Stewart.

James made a dominant return to the lineup against Indiana, pouring in 39 points to go along with five rebounds and six assists in the 124-116 OT win.

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Postgame, he gave his account of what happened in the incident that incensed Stewart.

“It was a box out in the free-throw line. His elbow got kinda high, if you watch the film it got me off-balance a little bit,” James explained.

“I tried to swimdown on his arm and when I swung down on his arm he got off-balance and the left side of my hand grazed his face. I knew right away, I knew right away I had caught some part of his head so I went over to apologize to him and obviously you guys seen what happened after that. Definitely accidental.”

Stewart made repeated attempts to get at James, requiring multiple staff members to hold him back as blood streamed down his face. Stewart received a two-game ban for the reaction, while James was sidelined for one game.

The Lakers would lose that one game without James, 106-100 at Madison Square Garden to the New York Knicks. LeBrondoesn’t believe he should have missed the contest.

MORE: LeBron James gets couple ejected in Indiana

“I’m definitely not that type of player. I hate to see that, what escalated after that.

“I didn’t think itwarranted…I thought it warranted an ejection because of what happened after that. Having me in the game, the excitement from the fans, what could possibly happen after that, but a suspension I didn’t think was warranted but the league made that call.”

Los Angeles climbed back to .500 at 10-10 on the season with the win against the Pacers, as they try to shake off a slow start to the season. Fellow star, Anthony Davis missed the game against Indiana with a fever.

Davis will have one night to recover before the Lakers host Sacramento at STAPLES Center – tip-off is at 8:30 p.m. ET.

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New Orleans Pelicans’ Zion Williamson cleared for full team activities; still no return timeline

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New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson has been cleared to participate in full team activities, the team announced on Friday evening.

Williamson, who is recovering from a fractured right foot, had his latest set of scans on Wednesday. They were evaluated by Pelicans team orthopedic surgeon Dr. Scott Montgomery and by Dr. Richard Ferkel, a surgeon who has worked on NBA players in the past.

“It’s been a long road to get him to this point,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “Anyone that’s ever dealt with any type of injury like that, it’s hard to come back from. It’s hard mentally. He’s done a great job pushing through. Z has an opportunity now to be a full go in practices, and we’ll have a practice soon. Hopefully that’ll add some juice to our team. He’s a huge part of what we do there.”

The Pelicans said Williamson went through 4-on-4, full-court work on Friday while the team is in Utah for a back-to-back. New Orleans plays Utah on Friday and Saturday before heading to Los Angeles to play the Clippers on Monday. The team will travel back to New Orleans on Tuesday and then play the Dallas Mavericks the following day.

Because of the team’s schedule, it’s likely the Pelicans won’t have a full practice for Williamson to participate in until Thursday.

In a news release, New Orleans said it has yet to determine when Williamson will return to game action.

“It’s more about how he responds to practices,” Green said. “How he responds to the physicality of playing against his teammates. How he responds to getting up and down. Just giving a timeline is tough on that. We want him back as soon as possible. But it’s all predicated on how he feels after workouts, and the medical team will work diligently with him and we’ll go from there.”

Williamson has yet to play in a game this season because of the fractured foot. In his absence, the Pelicans have gotten off to a 4-16 start.

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‘Not going to lie, I just wanted to spank you’ — How Brooks Koepka routed Bryson DeChambeau

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After months of feuding, trading jabs during interviews and on social media, then seemingly making up at the Ryder Cup — there was even a bro hug! — until that unraveled earlier this week, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka finally had a chance to settle this on the golf course.

This installment of “The Match” wasn’t much of a match. It was a rout.

The drama might not have been there, but the storytelling and trash talk didn’t disappoint — from Koepka and/or from commentators Charles Barkley and Phil Mickelson.

Here’s how it happened:

Scoreboard: Koepka wins 4&3

No. 1: Par 4

And we’re off at the Wynn Golf Club, with DeChambeau passing out cupcakes for Friendsgiving on the first tee, which drew a slight grin from Koepka.

DeChambeau found trouble from the start, with his opening tee shot landing behind a small bush in the pine bark. Fortunately for him, he got a free drop because the sprinkler system was in his line of play. He knocked his second shot into the greenside bunker. Koepka’s drive also went way right in the rough, but he was able to hit the green.

Koepka two-putted, and DeChambeau got up and down to tie the hole.

Result: Tie with pars.


No. 2: Par 4

DeChambeau might want to dial it back a bit. His second tee shot was even farther right than his first. Then he once again landed in a greenside bunker. Koepka hit the fairway again and took advantage with a 15-foot birdie putt to take a 1-up lead.

Mickelson correctly had the putt falling right because of the grain, and Koepka responded, “Oh, Phil, good call,” while grabbing his ball out of the cup.

While walking off the green, Koepka looked back.

“Bryson, that’s good,” he said.

It’s about to get chippy.

Result: Koepka wins with birdie


No. 3: Par 3

On the closest-to-the-pin hole for charity, Koepka’s ball ended up in the deep rough to the right, while DeChambeau’s was just about perfect, landing pin high and about 8 feet from the hole.

Koepka hit a nice chip to about 2 feet.

Before DeChambeau attempted to make his birdie putt, Mickelson asked him what was going through his head. His answer was about what you would expect — a thorough, 40-second explanation.

“It’s pretty simple: It’s 11 feet [with the uphill], 2% straight putt over here and to be honest, 10 or 11 feet straight putt,” DeChambeau said, in part.

Of course, he left the putt low and let a good opportunity go to waste.

Result: Hole tied with pars.


No. 4: Par 4

Koepka’s tee shot went way right. Mickelson said what many weekend hacks would have said.

“Aren’t paralleling fairways the best, though?” Mickelson said. “I’m a big fan of those.”

DeChambeau hit a fairway off the tee for the first time. After Mickelson bragged about DeChambeau’s wedge play, he missed his number and hit his ball over the green. Koepka’s second shot landed on the green, but he left another putt short on his birdie try.

“I would make snarky comments on that, but I’ve still got to make a par putt,” DeChambeau said.

He did.

Result: Tied with pars.


No. 5: Par 5

On the lone par 5 of the match, both players carried the fairway bunker. DeChambeau’s shot, though, went a lot farther. Mickelson was impressed.

“I mean, that is so attractive,” Mickelson said. “I don’t even know what to say about that.”

“Phil, you like that?” DeChambeau asked.

“I love that,” Mickelson said.

“I hit that good, man, just for you,” DeChambeau said. “Hey, I’ve still got to finish out the hole, though. It’s never guaranteed, just like the last hole. We talked about this length all of the time. It’s great, but I’ve still got to get it in the hole.”

The conversation proved to be prophetic. Koepka, who complained of missing his second shot, found the green and had an eagle look. DeChambeau’s second shot clipped a tree and came up short.

DeChambeau chipped up to about 6 feet. Koepka two-putted from about 40 feet for birdie. Then DeChambeau, inexplicably, missed his birdie putt to fall 2 holes down.

As the broadcast went to commercial, Brian Anderson, doing play-by-play on TNT, reminded viewers it was a 12-hole match.

Koepka, because has an earpiece in and can hear Anderson, Mickelson and Barkley, grinned.

“It won’t go 12,” he said.

Result: Koepka wins with birdie.


No. 6: Par 3

Koepka’s putts are starting to fall, and the four-time majors champion is threatening to run away from DeChambeau with a 3-up lead after six holes.

On the second par 3 of the match, Koepka hit a safe shot, with his ball landing about 11 feet from the hole. DeChambeau’s ball landed right, but spun back below the hole to about 14 feet. DeChambeau missed his putt; Koepka drained his.

“Any questions?” Koepka said.

“Man, I haven’t seen a beatdown like this since me and Phil put it on [Peyton Manning] and Steph [Curry],” Barkley said.

“A focused Koepka is a tough Koepka,” Mickelson said.

Result: Koepka wins with birdie.


No. 7: Par 4

With the match getting away from DeChambeau, Mickelson, a U.S. Ryder Cup co-captain at Whistling Straits, tried to encourage him before DeChambeau’s tee shot on No. 7.

“Bryson, same thing we talked about at Ryder Cup off No. 9,” Mickelson told him. “Get your brain in theta.”

“Yep, right in that sweet spot between parasympathetic and sympathetic,” DeChambeau said.

“Chuck, you get that?” Koepka asked Barkley.

“Hell, no,” Barkley said.

DeChambeau’s drive went way left, hit a tree, bounced off the cart path and landed in an adjoining fairway. After DeChambeau explained the difference between alpha, beta, delta and theta brainwaves, Barkley told Mickelson, “Man, I’m telling you, I’ve got to keep you two guys apart. You two together are dangerous.”

“How about a cross-country drive with us?” Mickelson said.

DeChambeau’s brain apparently remained in beta mode; he missed a good look at birdie to get one back.

Result: Tied with pars.


No. 8: Par 4

While Koepka waited to put the finishing touches on this one, he shared a tremendous story about bringing the U.S. Open trophy to Las Vegas after winning his first major at Erin Hills in 2017.

His caddie, Ricky Elliott, wanted to take the trophy out on the town. A restaurant wouldn’t let them bring the trophy inside — only the big ones like the Stanley Cup were allowed — so Koepka left the trophy in a drawer in the host stand.

When Elliott went back to his room that night, he left the trophy outside the room. They didn’t discover it was missing until the next day.

“We were in a panic because we didn’t know where it was,” Koepka said.

DeChambeau missed his birdie putt on No. 8, Koepka made his to go 4 up with four holes to play.

He’s probably going to have another trophy to lose.

Result: Koepka wins with birdie.


No. 9: Par 3

And that will do it. DeChambeau conceded the match after missing a birdie putt on the ninth hole, giving Koepka a 5&3 victory in a 12-hole match.

You could sense DeChambeau’s frustration on the tee box.

“Where is this on the PGA Tour, man?” DeChambeau asked Koepka. “You play so good right now.”

“It’s kind of like my major right now, right?” Koepka said.

“I guess it is,” DeChambeau said.

“I don’t play again until April,” Koepka said. “Not going to lie, I just wanted to spank you.”

“Does this want to make you play with [Bryson] more?” Koepka was asked. “Nah, I’m good.”

Result: Koepka wins with birdie.


Before the match

Let’s compare what the two have done:

And what they’ve done when in the same group:

Let the trash talk begin

PGA Tour officials don’t want fans taunting DeChambeau with shouts of “Brooksy” at its events, but that rule apparently doesn’t apply to Koepka. His ride for Friday’s match includes many of his favorite verbal jabs toward DeChambeau:

  • “2 short of a 6 pack”

  • “Let’s go Brooksy”

  • “There’s an ant”

  • “Sorry bro.”

Let the insults begin.

Just say ‘Brooksy’

In an otherwise mundane prematch news conference — actually, it was fans sending in questions during a livestream event — about an hour before they teed off, Koepka and DeChambeau were asked what they would whisper to their opponent if the other had a putt to win on the 12th hole.

‘”Brooksy’ seems to get to him quite a bit,” Koepka said. “He had to go to the Tour to get them to stop.”

“It’s simple: I’d just be walking on the cart path in spikes,” DeChambeau replied.

Of course, the sound of DeChambeau’s spikes were what sent Koepka’s eyes rolling during a post-round interview at the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island in May. Even Koepka admitted on Friday that the incident sent their beef to another level.

“The spikes drowned out the sound of his mouth,” Koepka said. “I enjoyed hearing the spikes.”

Tom Brady has thoughts

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, who played with Phil Mickelson against Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning in the event a year ago, has already chimed in about his former partner, who is offering TV commentary with Charles Barkley.

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