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“Beast Mode” to Leonard Fournette: Challenge Awaits Titans D

Posted Sep 14, 2017

The Titans weren’t pleased with their tackling against the Raiders, and running back Marshawn Lynch. On Sunday, they’ll face Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette, who racked up 100 yards in his NFL debut.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans faced “Beast Mode” in Week One.

Next up is another running back with a battering ram approach: Leonard Fournette.

“What have I seen on tape? I’ve seen the same thing since he was in college – a powerful, downhill runner,” Titans safety Kevin Byard said of Fournette, the fourth overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. “He’s a no-nonsense, one-cut guy who wants to get downhill. It’s a great challenge for the defense as a whole.

“He is definitely a back capable of getting 200 yards straight off power running plays. He is a game wrecker, and we have to contain him.”

The Titans weren’t pleased with their tackling in Sunday’s 26-16 loss to the Raiders. Oakland running back Marshawn Lynch ran for 76 yards in that game on a day when the Raiders racked up 109 yards on the ground.

Fournette, who starred at LSU, ran for 100 yards and a touchdown in his NFL debut in Jacksonville’s 29-7 win over the Texans. Running back Chris Ivory also ran for 42 yards, and as a team the Jaguars piled up a whopping 155 yards.

The Titans travel to Jacksonville to face the Jaguars, and that one-two-punch, on Sunday.

“(Fournette) is going to move the pile, going to move the line of scrimmage if there's nothing there,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. “Just big backs that you've got to have a crew there to tackle them. You don't want to get them in open space, that's where the yards after contact happen. I'll include (Chris) Ivory in that group too.”

Titans safety Da’Norris Searcy said the Titans must have the right mindset heading into Sunday. Fournette (6-foot, 228 pounds) and Ivory (6-foot, 223 pounds) are big guys.

“But in the NFL, if you don’t come with the preparation, the right mentality, they can make you look bad,” Searcy said. “Even though (Fournette) is a rookie, so far what I have seen on film he can make all the runs, all the cuts, and he is very shifty to be that big. We have to come prepared and be ready to tackle.”

Titans running back Derrick Henry, a Heisman Trophy-winning back, knows the challenge.

“Great back,” Henry said of Fournette. “He runs between the tackles, downhill, runs hard. He gets yards after contact. Like coach said, they’re going to have to be all around him because those are two great backs, Fournette and Ivory.”

The Titans defenders also know this: Tackling has to be better in Week 2.

A year ago, the Titans ranked second in the NFL in rushing defense, allowing just 88.3 yards per game.

“The best thing to do is realize you missed a lot of tackles in the first game, and wrap up,” Byard said. “We have to do better. If it’s get in the weight room and do extra curls, just do what you have to do.”