Countdown to Kickoff: 79 Days

David Boclair

The countdown to kickoff continues.

The Tennessee Titans will open the 2020 regular season Sept. 14 at Denver. That is 79 days away. So, today we look at one way the number 79 figures into the team’s recent history.

Dion Lewis proved in 2019 how quickly things can change for an NFL player.

An integral part of the Tennessee Titans’ offense in 2018, he registered just 79 touches last fall (54 runs, 25 receptions). That was still second on the team, but it was just under 25 percent of Derrick Henry’s team-leading 321 and it paved the way for his release in March.

More notably, it was barely a third of the number he had the previous season (214).

Lewis was a high-profile free agent addition in 2018 after three years with New England. That season he and Henry both ranked among the NFL’s top 20 in touches, and they looked like an ideally complementary pairing. Henry (6-3, 247) was the power runner who piled up yards on first and second down. Lewis (5-8, 195), short and shifty, provided a change of pace and a reliable option in the passing game.

Lewis set career-highs with 59 receptions and 400 receiving yards and had his second most productive season as a runner (155 carries, 517 yards) in his first go-round with Tennessee. He caught more than 88 percent of the passes thrown his way and averaged more than eight yards after the catch.

As his opportunities decreased last season, so did his performance. He played more than 40 percent of the offensive snaps in four of the first six games but hit that mark just twice in the last 10. His catch percentage dropped more than 10 points from 2018.

Across the league, 59 running backs were more involved for their respective teams than Lewis was for Tennessee, a state of affairs he termed “tough.”

The Titans’ decision to release him meant he had to look for a new team, which he found in the New York Giants. He can only hope he sees the ball a little more often this fall.

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