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Mike Mularkey sends Titans an early message with run-game work

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- On Mike Mularkey's first practice day as the Tennessee Titans' head coach, he shuffled the layout of practice.

In pads, the team started off with a 9-on-7 run-game drill.

"We started off with a run period, so they set the tone," said Byron Bell, who moved from left guard to right tackle for the day, flipping with rookie Jeremiah Poutasi. "Guys were getting after it. We had a couple guys scrapping. We don’t want that, but it’s bringing out the physicality of guys."

Mularkey said the changes in the line are experimental at this point and nothing is firm yet.

The interim coach still mentioned a role for Dexter McCluster and the possibility of Bishop Sankey, but he said more strongly than former coach Ken Whisenhunt that Antonio Andrews is at the front of the running back line.

"I think Antonio is the workhorse as we speak right now," he said. "...If we were going to force it, it would be to Antonio right now.

Said Andrews: "The workload is going up a lot."

David Cobb (calf) is eligible to come off injured reserve between now and Nov. 12, but Mularkey said he wants to see Cobb through tomorrow before the team decides his status for this week. Cobb is in the same mold as Andrews and could challenge him for carries.

The offensive line was greeted by the new guy at the top with a challenge.

"I know the line likes to run the football, every offensive line in the NFL likes to run the football," Mularkey said. "I like to run the football. But if we call runs and we don’t block them up up front consistently, it’s hard to run the football.

"I challenged the O-line this morning. If we do run it, you’re getting what you want, but you’ve got to give in return and move the line of scrimmage."