A look at Parmele vs. Battle for the Titans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Jackie Battle had a 19-yard catch-and-run for the Tennessee Titans in their preseason opener against Washington. It converted a third-and-16.

That play created more buzz than anything Jalen Parmele did, though Parmele had four more touches. Parmele was coming off a bit of a knee issue, so he didn’t play any special teams. Battle played five special-teams snaps.

From what I’ve seen, both are better running backs than Darius Reynaud, who could still make the team as a return specialist. The winner of Parmele vs. Battle for the No. 3 job, however, won’t get carries if Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene are healthy, and so will need to stand out on special teams.

“They are both similar in the fact that they are both extremely hard workers and bring a nice size body type; they are not small scat backs,” said Nate Kaczor, the Titans' special-teams coach. “Any time you have a third back that has a linebacker-type body, they could play the role of a linebacker [on teams] if you ever got down in depth at linebacker.”

Battle is 6-foot-2, 240 pounds. Parmele is 5-11, 225.

Battle has more momentum, having played with the starters in a couple special teams phases. In all, he worked on two punts, two punt returns and a kickoff return.

“I think I have to perform on offense, but I think most of it is determined by how I do on special teams,” Battle said.

Parmele has plenty of time to gain momentum of his own. He played for Titans running back coach Sylvester Croom in Jacksonville last season, which was a big reason why Tennessee grabbed him in favor of Jamie Harper. Parmele expects to work on all special-teams units except field goal and field-goal block.

“We have a lot of veteran running backs, which is good, we all have game experience,” Parmele said. “It makes it that much better.”

Kaczor needs to get them their work on teams early if he wants to guarantee he’s got them.

“You might have planned on playing them, but if the offense is kind of riding one of them, you can’t,” he said. “If they’re running the ball, they need to be out there running the ball."

I asked ESPN.com’s resident scout, Matt Williamson, to compare and contrast the two backs as candidates for the No. 3 spot.

“Parmele is a do-it-all guy that can run, catch, block and help out quite a bit on special teams,” Williamson said. “Battle is a big banger who isn't real agile but can run after he gets going. Battle offers little in passing game or on special teams. For that battle, give me Parmele, but Battle is more like Greene, if Greene were to go down.”