The 2017 season didn’t end the way DeMarco Murray envisioned.
But the Titans running back is motivated to bounce back and be even more productive in 2018 after dealing with a rash of injuries this season. Murray said he’s still got it.
“It was a tough one,” Murray said on Sunday as teammates cleaned out their lockers for the offseason. “It was filled with injuries and what-not throughout the course of the season. But it doesn’t take away from the fact … that we made it to the playoffs (as a team). We definitely wish we could have kept playing but things happen.
“We all just need to take a deep breath and try and digest it the best you can.”
Later, Murray was asked whether he can continue to be a top-end, feature back in the NFL following a season when his numbers dipped from the previous year, in part because of nagging injuries. Murray replied: “Definitely.””
“I am very confident in myself and I am excited,” Murray said. “I am excited about the future, and my future. I know what kind of player I am.”
Murray missed both of the team’s playoff games with a knee injury he suffered against the Rams on December 24. It’s an injury that also kept him out of the regular season finale. Until then, Murray hadn’t missed a game since joining the Titans prior to the 2016 season.
Murray said he was hoping to play again this season. But New England’s 35-14 win on Saturday night ended Tennessee’s season. Murray said he doesn’t need surgery at this point.
“It was very tough, having to sit and watch these last 2-3 games,” Murray said. “Obviously I hadn’t missed a game in quite some time. But I’m proud of the guys and how they battled. … I think this week probably would’ve been probably (to play if we’d won) but hat’s off to the Patriots.”
Murray dealt with a number of injuries in 2017 — from hamstring to knee to shoulder injuries — and he said on Sunday “there was a handful of games where I didn’t have anything.”
“But it’s part of the game, and injuries come and go and they occur and you have to do the best you can to play through them and treat it,” Murray said. “At the end of the day I just kept fighting and kept trying to give up an opportunity. It was hard at times, but it’s not really an excuse or anything. I just enjoy being out there with the guys.”
Murray ran for 659 yards on 184 carries in 2017, a year after racking up 1,287 rushing yards and nine touchdowns during a Pro Bowl season in 2016.
Running back Derrick Henry led the Titans in rushing in 2017, rushing for 744 yards and five touchdowns on 176 carries.
Murray said he envisioned returning to the team in a tandem with Henry in 2018, but “we’ll see how things unfold and go from there.” He complimented Henry’s play down the stretch, when he started the final three games in his place.
Murray said he plans to attack the offseason like he’s done in years past. He knows there’s room for improvement in the running game moving forward following a year when the Titans finished 15th in the NFL in rushing. But Murray said he likes the direction of the team.
“It is a great football team, great guys throughout this locker room and good coaching staff,” Murray said. “We just have to do the smaller things better. We made a lot of mistakes offensively. Consistency wasn’t one of our strong points this year, but those are things that we have to (improve). We just have to look in the mirror and continue to work.
“… When you are looking at assessing the run game, for me, I look at myself and there’s things you could have done better. You just have to go back to the drawing board and go from there.”