As we continue to watch what’s beginning to look like a future Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee develop right in front of our eyes, you have to house both excitement and a little concern if you’re a Tennessee Titans fan. Derrick Henry is the NFL’s best running back (we dare you to challenge that sentiment). He’s also one of the sturdiest. He’s missed two games since 2016.
The physical traits are there. So is the mental acumen, but one has to ask this about everyone who plays the game’s most punishing position. Why wouldn’t this team want to give him a break every now and again?
Think about this for a second if you’re a Tennessee Titans fan.
Sure, Derrick Henry six-foot-three and 247 pounds, but he’s also the Titans’ most prized asset on offense. Shouldn’t we all feel like this team is going to kill him if they keep hammering him up the gut 20 times a game? You saw how they worked Eddie George to death, didn’t you?
George, for as good as he was, only played eight seasons in a Titans jersey, and part of the reason for that was he was running over linebackers for most of his career. It makes highlight reels. It creates quite the stir, but it also takes its toll.
Yeah, he’s a workhorse. No, you can’t take Derrick Henry out of the offensive game plan, but did you see the season opener versus the Denver Broncos and the finale versus the Houston Texans? You do realize that he eclipsed 31 totes in each of those contests right? You do realize that he carried the ball 386 times in 2019 and another 396 in 2020, don’t you?
Both of those numbers include the playoffs. Eddie George also eclipsed the 300-carry total in each of his eight seasons with the franchise and never missed a game in a Titans jersey. That includes a 400-carry season in 2000. As mentioned, it all caught up with him in 2004.
Don’t expect fewer carries for Henry in 2021 if you’re a Tennessee Titans fan.
On April 15th, Titans head coach Mike Vrabel and the team’s general manager, Jon Robinson, took part in a live event for season ticket holders on April 15th. As you might expect, he was asked about King Henry and the possibility of him eclipsing the 2,000-yards rushing total for the second consecutive season in 2021.
Here’s some of what he had to say. Credit the team’s official website for the quote.
"Nobody prepares for the rigors of the season more than Derrick. I’m not going to say that Derrick is the hardest working player in football. I wouldn’t do that to the players around this league, but I can’t imagine that any of them work harder than he does. (He understands) the toll that he is going to take."
Expect there to be some concern similar to what’s being expressed here one over the fact that the Titans have put a lot of miles on their star running back over the course of his journey here. Still, if the Titans are going to win, Henry has to get the ball, and if Henry is going to eclipse 2,000 yards again, he’ll need to get the ball a lot.
Perhaps Coach Vrabel put it best. “You can’t have it both ways. You can’t want 2,000 yards, and then have him standing next to me”.
He has a point. There’s no denying that. All we’re saying is this guy is an all-world talent, and we’d hate to see his decline come before it was necessary.