Jim Wyatt, Senior Writer/Editor, TitansOnline.com
The Titans have one of the best one-two punches in the NFL in running backs DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. Draft pick Khalfani Muhammad wants to make his mark, in a flash.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Khalfani Muhammad stood at his locker following the first day of rookie minicamp, and he could hardly believe his location.
“I have DeMarco Murray on one side,” said Muhammad, looking to his right, “and Derrick Henry on the other side. These two backs are phenomenal. They are elite backs and I can learn a lot from them. And what I bring, hopefully I can add to that.”
The Titans drafted Muhammad in the seventh round of the NFL Draft, and the former California running back will attempt to stick on the roster — and make an impact – by bringing something different.
Muhammad is just 5-7, and weighs 174 pounds. But like another former Titans running back who wore No.28, Muhammad brings speed, and quickness.
“It was fun to watch him — he did a lot of things we saw on tape,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said of Muhammad following the rookie’s first day of practice. “Khalfani really had a good workout when Jon (Robinson) and I went out there (to see him), a really good workout. That speed, it’s just a different change up from what we have in our other backs. Plus, again, you are talking about another guy who has return ability and kick return. He brings a lot of value.”
Muhammad played in 45 games with 13 starts in his four seasons at Cal from 2013-16. He rushed for 2,073 career yards on 359 carries while racking up 14 total touchdowns. He ranks second on Cal’s all-time list in kick returns (87) and kick return yards (1,931) while his 4,575 career all-purpose yards are third (one more than fourth-place Marshawn Lynch’s 4,574).
Muhammad ran a 4.35 40-yard dash at Cal’s Pro Day.
Titans cornerback Adoree’ Jackson, a first-round pick who played at USC, competed against Muhammad in college. The two competed against one another in high school as well, in football, and in track.
Now, they’re roommates in the NFL.
“We always played in college and beat them, so now we can be on a team together and win,’’ Jackson said with a smile. “But it’s cool. I know what kind of guy (Khalfani) is, and he is blazing fast. He’s a kick returner, running back who hits the hole. It is great to have him.”
Muhammad said he hopes to add an extra dimension to the Titans.
Murray finished third in the NFL last season with 1,287 rushing yards, while Henry racked up 490 yards in his rookie season.
Muhammad doesn’t have to look at a tape measure or scale to know he’s different from those bigger backs.
But that’s a good thing, he said.
“Those are elite athletes, and they bring a lot to the table and the game,’’ Muhammad said of Murray and Henry. “They are proven, and they’ve done some phenomenal things. I am looking forward to being up close to them, and learning from them. It should help me enhance my game.
“We are different backs. I am smaller, a quicker back. I accelerate pretty fast. But I am looking forward to hearing what they have to say, and hopefully I can add something to the team.”