NASHVILLE — Running back Darrynton Evans’ rookie campaign, like his draft class, has been disappointing. Activated to the roster after spending half of the year on IR, Evans must again show the Tennessee Titans (8-4) coaching staff that he’s worthy of a spot on game day.
No small task.
The third round pick out of Appalachian State has appeared in only two games for Tennessee this season (Weeks 3 and 5). A groin issue cost him the first two games and a hamstring issue in October saw him sit out the last eight weeks. In the 2020 season, the rookie projected as competent back-up to NFL rushing leader Derrick Henry has contributed only 21 yards on 5 carries.
Counting fullback Khari Blasingame, the Titans currently have five viable backfield options behind the one that they call King.
So, where can Evans break through?
“It is crowded,” coach Mike Vrabel said on Wednesday. “Usually backup skill players, tight ends, receivers, runners, those guys are going to have to have a role in the kicking game to help us. That’s where we’ll evaluate all of those guys, Darrynton (Evans) being one of them, is what other role can he do for us other than run the football and be a backup runner.”
To The House
Evans started his collegiate career primarily as a true freshman kick returner in 2016.
Over the course of his time with the Mountaineers, Evans totaled 1,439 yards on kickoff returns and a program-record three scores as a kick returner. Wide receiver Cam Batson currently handles the return man responsibilities but it could not hurt Tennessee’s recently settled-in special teams unit to get a boost. Running back Jeremy McNichols, Henry’s current back-up, and Blasingame both factor in as core special teamers but D’Onta Foreman’s role their could be replaced.
“We’re looking for Darrynton to play a lot on special teams,” coach Craig Aukerman told media on Thursday. “That’s the way it was going to be at the start of the year until he got hurt. Darrynton has shown a lot of good things when he was at App State. As far as a kickoff returner, he did a really good job and that was one of the spots that we were gonna have him at. Obviously, you’d like to have some type of preseason for him to be back there and catch a kickoff.”
Aukerman continued on to say how excited they were to get Evans involved with their unit and that he knew the young back would help them wherever he could.
With first round pick Isaiah Wilson away from the team, and Fulton still in the Designated To Return role, Evans still has time to find his footing.
The Titans are desperate for some substantial rookie contributions down the stretch.
Featured Image: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports.