Dexter McCluster wants to show Titans he can still play

SAN DIEGO -- He spent two seasons with the Tennessee Titans as the team’s return man and third-down back. But veteran running back Dexter McCluster was unceremoniously released during final roster cuts in September.

He was signed as a free agent a few weeks later by the San Diego Chargers to replace an injured Danny Woodhead, and this week's Titans-Chargers matchup is a game he's been waiting for.

“Me being there for two years, I kind of know the ins and outs of that system,” McCluster said. “When I signed with the Chargers I circled this game on my calendar, because I know it’s an opportunity to reunite with those guys and play with a chip on my shoulder.

“I’m happy that they gave me an opportunity, but it’s an important game this weekend. Now’s the time to show them, ‘Hey, this is what you had baby.’”

McCluster said he still keeps in contact with several players on the team through texts or on social media, including reserve running back and fellow return man Antonio Andrews.

“He was one of my best friends on the team when I was there,” McCluster said about Andrews. “We chop it up all the time.”

McCluster served as Tennessee’s main punt returner during his time with the Titans, along with seeing time as a change-of-pace back on third downs.

Mike Mularkey took over as Tennessee’s head coach after Ken Whisenhunt was fired seven games into the season. Mularkey named McCluster a captain.

However, Mularkey switched to more of a smash-mouth, power running game during the offseason.

The Titans traded with the Philadelphia Eagles for running back DeMarco Murray in free agency and drafted Derrick Henry in the second round of this year’s draft, making McCluster expendable.

McCluster replaced an ineffective Travis Benjamin as San Diego’s punt returner, and also serves as a change-of-pace back on passing downs. He has done a nice job stabilizing San Diego’s ball-security issues on punt returns, but has been used sparingly on offense. McCluster has 10 total touches for 38 yards from scrimmage in six games played.

However, with Benjamin and Tyrell Williams nursing knee injuries, McCluster could see more time as a receiver this week.