Derrick Henry was on pace for almost 2,000 yards before he went down with a foot injury back in October.
In the eight games he played, Henry ran for over 100 yards in five of them and 130 or more yards in four of them. The Tennessee Titans went 6-2 in that span.
Now the best running back in the league is ready to come back. But it is not quite clear how much he will be able to contribute.
Yesterday, Henry participated in his first contact practice since the injury. He said he “felt great,” but head coach Mike Vrabel still wants to see how the running back holds up in the rest of the practices this week. “It has been a while since he has had contact,” he said. “We will have a week of work, see how he feels, and make a decision.”
But even if Henry plays (which does seem likely), it is not clear how much of a factor he will be. Tennessee’s offensive coordinator, Todd Downing, said that he will have to monitor Henry and go with what works for the flow of the game.
We spoke to a former Titan, Denard Walker, who told us that Henry is exceptional in how he takes care of his body, making his recovery from a foot injury far more seamless than what other players would encounter. Walker also pointed to the success of Henry’s backups, D’Onta Foreman and Dontrell Hillard, both of whom have had 100 yard rushing games since Henry went down, which make it less likely that Henry will be forced to carry the load.
If Henry is active, Walker predicts that Foreman will get the bulk of the carries and Henry will be worked into the game plan gradually. “This team will implement him into the offense, but they’ll do it slowly,” Walker said. “They’re going to monitor Derrick. What you don’t want is a setback that carries into the offseason.”
Walker then talked about how the speed of postseason games makes Henry’s return a bit more complicated. “It’s hard to really simulate in practice game-type speed,” Walker said. “And it’s different in the playoffs than the regular season.”
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