A second-round pick of the Tennessee Titans in the 2014 NFL Draft, Bishop Sankey would have to be considered a bust at this point. In two seasons, the running back – who is still just 23 – has gained just 762 yards on 199 carries for a mere 3.8 yards per attempt.
His inability to gain traction caused the team to go out and acquire DeMarco Murray and draft Derrick Henry during the offseason. Clearly, the heat is on Sankey to show he is a viable NFL player. The Titans are reportedly going to give him every chance to prove it, as head coach Mike Mularkey says that Sankey will get extended work in preseason games.
Mularkey also has been making it a point to praise Sankey, pointing out that he is bigger and stronger, and also is being more aggressive with his runs – less backfield dancing and more recognizing and hitting holes.
“Bishop’s bigger than when he got here,” Mularkey told The Tennessean. “He’s put on weight, muscle weight, and he’s definitely a different style runner this camp that I’ve seen. He’s hitting things. There’s no hesitation like he’s had.”
This is all very interesting when you consider that Sankey has been buried down the depth chart during training camp workouts. Forget Murray and Henry, Sankey has been playing behind the likes of former practice squad player David Fluellen. That doesn’t speak well to his future with the Titans.
Given all of this, it seems clear that the Titans will use the preseason to showcase Sankey for a potential trade. Give him the bulk of the work, hope he shows some spark of explosiveness that has so far been hidden, and wait for a couple opposing general managers to pick up the phone. And while they’re at it, the Titans will limit the risk of injuring Murray or Henry in the glorified practices that are preseason games.
And it’s not like Sankey doesn’t have any potential to be a threat in the NFL. This is a guy who gained more than 3,300 yards and scored 36 touchdowns over the course of his final two seasons at the University of Washington. He has also shown some versatility on the pro level, catching 32 passes for 272 yards in two seasons with the Titans. Some team looking for a multi-skilled back who has gotten older, wiser, stronger and more aggressive could get a real gem in acquiring Sankey.
Sankey, for his part, said he feels that “extra urgency” this summer.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said. “I feel like I’m a capable starter at running back. I believe that about myself and I’m just trying to get better each day at practice. That’s where my main focus is.”
Believing in yourself is great, and it’s clear that Sankey has worked to improve his game and wants to be a starter. While it will be on him to prove that he can get things done on the field, the good news is that the Titans will give him every chance to do so.
In the end, it just might be somewhere other than Tennessee.