By its nature, football is a dangerous sport. There is risk of injury on every snap. That’s why most NFL teams don’t like to expose their starters to all that much preseason action.
The Tennessee Titans held most of their starters out of the preseason opener against the Atlanta Falcons on Friday night, which the Titans won 23-3. Of course, that included star running back Derrick Henry. Tennessee still sustained an injury to its backfield during the game, though.
Henry’s backup, second-year back Darrynton Evans, left the game with a knee injury during the first quarter. The Titans subsequently declared him questionable to return. He had 26 yards on four carries before his exit, after which he was replaced in the lineup by Jeremy McNichols.
Evans, a third-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, was slated to be Henry’s backup last season, but was limited to just five games as he spent much of the season on injured reserve while dealing with a hamstring issue. He finished the season with only 14 carries for 54 yards, as well as two catches for 27 yards and a touchdown.
Evans had apparently been impressing during training camp, so the injury is certainly a setback, whether or not it causes him to miss additional time. The Titans base their offense around Henry’s skill set so his backups are likely to have a somewhat limited role, but there is a chance one of them can take over most of the passing-game work, given Henry’s limitations in that area. Obviously, Evans needs to be healthy to grab that workload.