Snap Judgements: Drawing Conclusions Based on Playing Time vs. Jacksonville
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Titans think they have found something in running back Khari Blasingame.
Signed off Minnesota’s practice squad, Blasingame played 15 snaps on offense and another 13 on defense in his first game for the Titans (it also was his NFL debut), Sunday’s 42-20 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
What was particularly noteworthy about his workload was the fact that veteran Dion Lewis was on the field for just eight snaps with the offense.
Plus, there’s the fact that none of the others who have been Tennessee’s third running back this season were almost exclusively special teams performers. David Fluellen got four snaps with the offense in two appearances before he was placed on injured reserve. Rod Smith appeared in three games but only saw the field as a part of the special teams. Dalyn Dawkins, in his one appearance, got three snaps with the offense.
Blasingame did not carry the ball and was not targeted in the passing game but he clearly gave the Titans something no one else who has filled that role has. Most notably, he is someone who can serve as a lead blocker for running back Derrick Henry.
“He’s young. He’s conscientious. He’s smart. Versatile,” coach Mike Vrabel said. “[And he] can understand the kicking game. … We felt like there was enough there that kind of maybe what he had been practicing in Minnesota was some good carryover for what we had asked him to do.”
Blasingame was an undrafted free agent out of Vanderbilt and took part in Tennessee’s “local day” workout prior to the 2019 NFL Draft. He ultimately signed with Minnesota and spent the entire offseason and preseason there. The Vikings cut him prior to the start of the regular season but immediately signed him to the practice squad, where he remained until the Titans came calling.
“I had to kind of get my feet wet and get into it,” Blasingame said. “But it was fun. It was real fun. And [I was] just taking my opportunities where I got them.”
And he got more of them.
Other observations based on playing time against Jacksonville:
• Short memory: Playing the hero does not mean an increase in playing time. Wide receiver Adam Humphries scored the game-winning touchdown against Kansas City in the final game before the bye week but got just a season-low 12 snaps (out of 53) with the offense against the Jaguars. He was on the field for at least twice that number in nine of the first 10 games and at least 20 plays in all 10.
Give Humphries credit for making the most of his limited opportunities, though. He finished the day with three receptions (he was only targeted three times), which was second on the team to rookie A.J. Brown, who had four receptions.
A similar scenario played out with rookie linebacker David Long, who logged 28 plays and made a career-high 11 tackles against Kansas City (he had one tackle in seven appearances before that). Against Jacksonville, he got just two snaps with the defense and did not record a tackle.
• Follow the ball: The bye week did inside linebacker Jayon Brown as much good as anyone on Tennessee’s roster. Brown missed two of the four games leading into the break with a groin injury but played against the Jaguars and was on the field for 82 of the defense’s 84 snaps. No one else among the front seven played more than 70 snaps.
Not only was he on the field, but he often ended up wherever the ball was. Brown led the team with 16 tackles, a career-high. It was just third time this season and the fifth time in his career he finished with double digits in stops. His previous single-game high was 11, which he had done three times.
• Left out: Coaches obviously want rookie right guard Nate Davis and right tackle Jack Conklin to spend as much time working together as possible. With the game out of reach late, left tackle Taylor Lewan and left guard Rodger Saffold were pulled and allowed to rest. Dennis Kelly and Jamil Douglas, respectively, replaced them for the final seven offensive snaps while Conklin and Davis were among the four players who participated in every play for the offense. Center Ben Jones and quarterback Ryan Tannehill were the others.