Latest On Titans’ Backfield Situation

Although a Derrick Henry return in Week 18 surfaced as a possibility weeks ago, the Titans will remain cautious with the two-time reigning rushing champion.

Tennessee will not activate Henry from IR on Saturday, keeping him shelved until the playoffs. The Titans designated Henry for return this week, giving them options moving forward. Henry’s ramp-up period can last up until before the AFC championship game, should the Titans’ season extend that far. But the team has long been preparing to have its top weapon ready to go before that point.

Henry has been out since suffering a Jones fracture in his foot in Week 8. The Titans initially struggled to pick up the pieces, and they moved on from Adrian Peterson fairly quickly. However, the AFC South champs have since seen D’Onta Foreman — also a midseason pickup following Henry’s injury — begin to establish himself as a starter. Foreman has notched three 100-yard games over his past five. Should Henry indeed return to action in the playoffs, Foreman would stand to be a key off-the-bench performer.

For now, however, the Titans are reshuffling their backfield. One of the early candidates to replace Henry, Jeremy McNichols, is no longer on the roster. The Titans waived the veteran backup Saturday and promoted Jordan Wilkins from their practice squad. A former Colts fifth-round pick, Wilkins caught on with the Titans after a midseason Indianapolis exit. He joins Dontrell Hilliard alongside Foreman on Tennessee’s active roster.

Wilkins topped 5.5 yards per carry in each of his first two seasons, playing behind Marlon Mack, and eclipsed 300 rushing yards in each of his first three. Now rostering the NFL’s rushing leader in Jonathan Taylor, the Colts dropped Wilkins this season. A former Buccaneers fifth-round pick who also spent time with the Colts, McNichols has been with the Titans for the past two seasons. He is averaging just 3.8 yards per carry this year, on 41 totes, and saw Foreman take over the backfield down the stretch.

The Titans also promoted defensive linemen Da’Shawn Hand and Kevin Strong on Saturday. The team has a chance to clinch home-field advantage for the first time since 2008 Sunday. A win over the Texans would secure Tennessee the AFC’s No. 1 seed. This would obviously be beneficial for both the Titans and Henry. The Chiefs would recapture the conference’s top slot with a win over the Broncos today and a subsequent Titans loss.

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