As a rookie in 2014, Titans running back Bishop Sankey rushed for 569 yards and two touchdowns. Now heading into his second season, he has high expectations – both for himself and the team.
“I feel light years ahead this year from a mental standpoint and just understanding the playbook better and knowing what these coaches are expecting out of me,” Sankey said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “It’s been good. It’s been a process each day. We’re all just taking it one day at a time. I think everybody in the running back room is pushing each other at practice. I think guys are really pushing each other each day.”
While every team needs a productive running game to be successful, the Titans need it more than most, mainly because they have a rookie under center in Marcus Mariota.
“Definitely,” Sankey said. “I think with a young quarterback, you have to be able to produce in the running game. And like I said, each day at practice guys are working hard, we’re pushing each other and that’s something that we have in the back of our heads – we have to help Mariota out. With that said, I think he’s looked good so far at camp. It’s just a process to keep getting better.”
Mariota was efficient in his first preseason game, going 7-of-8 for 94 yards in a 31-24 loss to the Falcons on Friday. He did, however, throw an interception and have an early fumble returned to the house.
While it’ll certainly be a learning process for Mariota, Sankey has been impressed with the Heisman winner’s poise in the huddle.
“It’s really calm,” Sankey said. “I’ve been in practice with him so far. Just the confidence he’s had as a rookie quarterback – that’s kind of his demeanor. He seems really confident and really poised.”
The Titans will need that from Mariota if they hope to improve on their 2-14 record from a year ago.
“Well, I think last year we all knew we were better than the product that we put out on the field,” Sankey said. “So far this year, everybody’s just been practicing with a chip on their shoulder. We’re making adjustments. We know we’re better than a 2-14 team. I think everybody’s eager to go out there and prove that. We know not a lot of people expect much from us, but that doesn’t matter to us. I think we’re excited for the season to get going and excited for this preseason to get going. I think everybody is going to play with a chip on their shoulder this year and we’re going to bring some wins to the club.”
That would be a wise career move for Ken Whisenhunt. The 53-year-old has been a highly successful NFL coach, but you can’t string too many bad seasons together if you want to keep getting a paycheck.
“He seems like the same old Coach Whisenhunt,” Sankey said, “but like I said, it’s a new season. It’s a new year. I think everybody kind of has a new life about them. We’re doing our best to learn from last year but not really dwell in the past. I think guys are coming out with a good attitude. It’s been positive so far.”