NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Bishop Sankey has three days to learn as much as he can before Tennessee’s newest running back returns to college.
When he leaves, Sankey will be taking a new iPad that the Titans hope will keep him updated as much as possible until he returns.
NFL rules limit Sankey to his team’s rookie minicamp until the second-round draft pick wraps up final exams at Washington in June. Then he can return and start trying to replace Chris Johnson as Tennessee’s starting running back.
Sankey joined Tennessee’s five other draft picks Friday for the first day of the three-day minicamp along with 14 undrafted free agents and 20 others here for a tryout. Some of the rookies reported for work Monday, but Sankey was the lone draft pick who got to town Thursday night.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt said the Titans will try to give Sankey as much of the offense as possible while he’s here. Washington starts final exams June 7, and Sankey is expected to rejoin the Titans around June 11.
“We’ll have pretty much everything in by then, so he’ll be playing catch-up most of the time,” Whisenhunt said. “The value of having that iPad, though, is so we can send him the information and send him the video and hopefully that can help. He seems like an intelligent young man, so I think he’ll be able to handle a good portion of it.”
The Titans sure need Sankey to be ready once the season starts.
They released Johnson in April to avoid paying him $8 million this season. Shonn Greene, signed to a three-year contract in March 2013, just had arthroscopic surgery on the right knee he needed surgery on last September keeping him out of five games. He ran for only 295 yards on 77 carries backing up Johnson. Veterans Jackie Battle and Leon Washington also are on the roster, and they signed Antonio Andrews of Western Kentucky as an undrafted free agent.
The need for a running back who can play all three downs is why they selected the 5-foot-10, 210-pound Sankey out of Washington at No. 54 overall. Sankey ran for 1,870 yards as a junior at Washington, averaging 5.72 yards per carry with 20 touchdowns, including a long of 60. He also caught 28 passes for 304 yards.
“You can see the movement, skills that you like,” Whisenhunt said after Sankey’s first practice. “He’s smart a smart guy. He’s one of the ones that came in last night, and he performed well out there today with not much time to process everything. Good hands. Saw that a couple times today. So far so good.”
Sankey needed a minute Friday before putting on an NFL jersey for the first time in his life. The running back who wore No. 25 at Washington has been given No. 20 — the number worn by Pro Bowl cornerback Alterraun Verner last year. Johnson’s No. 28 was given to defensive back Marqueston Huff, a fourth-round draft selection out of Wyoming.
“Right now the biggest adjustment is just the playbook,” Sankey said. “There’s a lot of content that goes into it, and it’s really important from me to pick up the pass protection and the check-downs, and I think the quicker I do that the better.”
Notes: Among the players trying out are two with former NFL players for fathers. Alonzo Highsmith played running back for the then-Houston Oilers among other NFL teams, and his son, Alonzo, is here as a safety. Greg Lloyd, a linebacker like his father who played with Pittsburgh, is trying to catch on with the Titans. … Andrews said he heard from all 32 NFL teams wanting to sign him, but he chose the Titans as the team he watched growing up about an hour away at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
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