Written by Special Contributor John Glennon
The fact that Titans running back DeMarco captured the AFC's rushing title on Sunday became all the more impressive when he revealed afterward the significance of his foot injury.
Murray said he suffered a torn plantar plate in his right foot in the Titans' win over Jacksonville on Oct. 27. Murray went over 100 yards in that contest for the fourth time this season, but he only topped 100 yards once more afterward.
To help heal the foot, Murray sat out Wednesday practices for several weeks. But he was never completely healthy.
“It was rough. I won’t lie about it,” Murray said. “I had to take medication just to practice. It was definitely not 100 percent, and it’s something I had to deal with.
“You’ve got to fight through injuries and fight through the pain. It was a case of where I just wanted to keep playing. The trainers just kept finding ways to tape it and give it some stability. But at the end of the day, I just had to put the pain somewhere else and keep playing.”
Murray still finished the year with 293 carries for 1,287 yards (4.4-yard average) and nine touchdowns. It was the second-highest rushing total of his career, ranking only below his 2014 season in Dallas, when he ran for 1,845 yards.
Murray began the day two rushing yards behinds Pittsburgh's Le'Veon Bell, but Bell sat during the Steelers' final contest. Murray ran 11 times for 21 yards against Houston.
“I think he would tell you himself that it's a group effort,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said of Murray's rushing crown. “He's made a lot of yards on his own, but also our guys up front, tight ends – when we lost Craig Stevens, for (Anthony) Fasano and (Phillip) Supernaw to step in there and block like they've blocked and give us a chance to be a good rushing team, you've got to give those guys credit, too.”
McCourty's status – Titans cornerback Jason McCourty sat out Sunday's finale with chest and shoulder injuries, and said he's not had discussions with the team about the future.
An eight-year veteran, McCourty saw his playing time trimmed as the season went on, as the Titans turned more toward players like Le'Shaun Sims, Valentino Blake and Brice McCain. McCourty has one year left on his contract. But if the Titans choose to keep him, it's likely McCourty would have to agree to reducing his $7 million base salary for 2017.
“I don't really think about it in respect to whether (I'm) going to be here or not,” McCourty said. “The one thing I try to live by is control the controllables. Whether I'm here or not next year is not in my control. For me, my mindset is I have another year left on my contract going forward. Until someone tells me otherwise, I'm going to plan on being here.”
And if the topic of taking a pay-cut does get raised?
“In the event that does happen, I'd be happy to discuss it with them and move forward in that direction,” McCourty said. “But right now, no contract talks or anything of that nature has been discussed. It's been about all football.”
Draft position – The Titans' trade with the Los Angeles Rams looks like it will pay nice dividends come draft time.
The Rams were well on their way to falling to 4-12 late Sunday afternoon, a result that would give the Titans the fifth overall pick in the first round.
As for the Titans' own first-round pick in 2017, it looks as if it will be No. 18, 19 or 20, based on strength-of-schedule tiebreakers.
2017 opponents – Home games for the Titans in 2017 will include Houston, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, Seattle and Oakland.
Road games for the Titans in 2017 will include Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Arizona, San Francisco and Miami.