Tennessee Titans should play Derrick Henry in Week 18 if he is healthy

Tennessee Titans (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Tennessee Titans (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The big return is near, and Tennessee Titans fans could not be more excited. Derrick Henry is slated to re-join the lineup by the playoffs at the latest, which is another huge boost of momentum for a team that just clinched their division for the second straight year.

While this is great news, the obvious fear among Titans fans is that they are bringing Henry back too quickly and are about to risk re-injuring him. After all, there is a chance that the fracture he suffered in his foot as a result of being overworked.

It goes without saying that if Henry is anything short of 100 percent healthy going into the Tennessee Titans tilt with the Houston Texans, he absolutely should not see the field in any capacity. But if he is healthy and ready to go, it would be beneficial to both him and the team if he got some carries.

Tennessee Titans cannot afford Henry to have rust come playoff time

Henry was the NFL’s leading rusher in 2019 and 2020 and was well on his way to his third straight title before his injury was made official after Week 8. His ability to dominate on the ground cannot be overstated, but rarely is he at his best at the very beginning of the season.

It took him until November of 2019 to reach his best that year, and throughout September and October of 2020, he was nowhere near as consistent as he was in the second half of the year. In this year’s home opener, while nobody on the Tennessee Titans looked particularly good, Henry yet again was not his usual self, as he carried the ball 17 times for a mere 58 yards and no touchdowns. Even in his Heisman Trophy-winning season at Alabama in 2015, he was hardly in the conversation until November.

You must be sensing a theme here, aren’t you? It normally takes Henry a few games into the season to start being the force we know him to be, presumably due to needing time to get up to speed after sitting for so long.

Do not expect things to be much different after he returns from his injury. It has been over two months since he last played a game, and if you are expecting him to come back and immediately dominate, you are likely setting yourself up for disappointment.

That is why if Henry is healthy and able to play this week, he should see the field in at least some capacity. And no, that does not mean he has to get 20-25 carries, or even get the majority of them.

The only reason he would need to play this week is so that come playoff time, he is not trying to re-adjust to the pace of the game. Ideally, Henry would get about 10-15 carries just to shake off some rust, and D’Onta Foreman would get the rest of them.

Again, there is no reason to rush Henry back to the field before he is fully ready to go. But if he is this week, it would make sense for him to see some action.