Derrick Henry

Titans Considering Derrick Henry Extension?

Derrick Henry is coming off his first significant injury as a pro, having missed nine regular-season games before returning for the Titans’ divisional-round tilt. But the two-time rushing champion had amassed a staggering lead on the rest of the NFL at the time he suffered the foot ailment; he still finished ninth in rushing last season.

The Titans have Henry signed through 2023, by virtue of the four-year, $50MM extension the parties agreed to just before the 2020 franchise tag deadline. But the team is open to doing another deal with its star running back, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes.

Although third running back contracts for notable sums are exceedingly rare in the modern NFL, another Henry-Titans pact would help the team create near-future cap space. Henry would also collect some guaranteed money; the guarantees on his current deal ended after last season. A new deal, however, could tag Tennessee with dead money down the road. As is, Henry is attached to $15MM cap numbers in 2022 and ’23. The Titans are near the bottom of the NFL in cap space, holding barely $3MM.

Since paying Henry two summers ago, the Titans have opted not to extend Corey Davis, Jonnu Smith and A.J. Brown. Henry and Robert Woods‘ nonguaranteed contracts represent the only noteworthy veteran salaries among Titan skill-position players presently. Tennessee’s post-Brown plan will place pressure on first-round pick Treylon Burks, who will essentially replace the traded wide receiver, and for Henry to keep delivering top-shelf backfield work.

Henry is entering his age-28 season. He compiled workhorse carry totals for the past two-plus seasons, but his first three years — when he spent much of that time alongside DeMarco Murray — kept those numbers down. Henry’s per-carry average did drop to 4.3 last season, down from north of five yards per tote in 2019 and ’20, and he is sitting on 1,401 career carries (second-most among projected starting backs, behind only Ezekiel Elliott‘s 1,650). It will be interesting to see what kind of effect Henry’s recent handoff counts (303 in 2019, 378 in 2020 and 219 in an abbreviated ’21) have on his 2022 form.

Titans Expect Derrick Henry To Be Fully Healthy In 2022

The Titans were indeed able to get superstar running back Derrick Henry back in the lineup on Saturday, marking an impressive return to the field after suffering what was initially thought to be a season-ending injury. While Tennessee wound up on the losing end of that game, it is expected that he will be fully healthy for the beginning of next season. 

As Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk writes, Titans head coach Mike Vrabel addressed his star’s health status at a press conference on Monday. He said, “I think he’s fully healed. I know he’s fully healed”, referring to the Jones Fracture Henry suffered in Week 8. Vrabel added, “I’m sure he’ll have a great offseason”, paving the way for the 28-year-old to carry on as the league’s preeminent workhouse back.

When asked whether wear and tear led to the injury, Vrabel responded that he “didn’t get that sense from any doctor”. Henry had 219 carries in those first eight games, putting him on pace for the highest total of his career. He was ultimately able to work his way back to full health in time for the Divisional Round, allowing the team to give him 20 carries against the Bengals, although he managed to turn those into just 62 yards.

Considering the production Henry had in less than half of one season (a league-leading 937 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns), it would of course be a huge boost to the Titans if he were to be healed and able to pick up where he left off in 2022.

Titans Activate RB Derrick Henry

On the precipice of a long-rumored return, Derrick Henry is all but set to take the field Saturday. The two-time rushing champion is back on the Titans’ active roster.

The Titans activated Henry from IR on Friday. This is a procedural move, with Henry needing to be bumped up to the active roster by this afternoon in order to play against the Bengals. Linked to returning in the playoffs for several weeks now, the bulldozing running back is now eligible to do so.

Henry has not played since Week 8 but returned to practice Jan. 5. Despite missing more than half the season, Tennessee’s sixth-year back finished in the top 10 in rushing. The Titans gave their superstar an extra week to rehab by securing the AFC’s top seed. It will be interesting to see how the team deploys Henry, considering his lengthy absence due to a foot fracture.

The NFL’s rushing champion in 2019 and ’20, Henry played a significant role in Ryan Tannehill‘s turnaround and in the Titans advancing to the playoffs during those seasons. He was on pace for another 2,000-yard season this year, but the Halloween injury stalled his run. During Henry’s hiatus, the Titans landed on D’Onta Foreman as their starter. The former third-round pick should still be expected to play a role against Cincinnati, but Henry has moved back into position to reclaim his starting job.

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.

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/5/22

Here are Wednesday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears 

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Titans Designate Derrick Henry For Return

It’s official. On Wednesday, the Titans announced that they have designated running back Derrick Henry for return from the injured reserve list. 

This was the expected news after weeks of positive updates on Henry’s surgically-repaired foot. Once thought to be a season-ender, Henry has beat his initial recovery timeline by a mile. From here, the Titans could conceivably activate Henry for this week’s game against the Texans, though they may prefer to take the cautious approach.

Henry led the league in 2019 with 1,540 rushing yards last year while notching a total of 18 touchdowns. Last year, he set a new personal watermark with 2,027 yards via the ground, 17 rushing TDs, and 21 total scores.

The Titans have managed an 11-5 record despite playing much of the year without Henry, but they’re clearly a better team with him on the field. From here, the Titans plan to ease Henry back into practice and assess whether to dress him on Sunday. If Henry can’t go, the Titans will continue to use D’Onta Foreman as their lead back, a plan that has served them well so far. Just last week, Foreman turned back the clock to rack up 132 rushing yards against the Dolphins.

Latest On Titans’ Derrick Henry

Derrick Henry is expected to practice with the Titans on Wednesday (Twitter link via Dianna Russini of ESPN.com). This marks yet another step forward for the star running back who is expected to be a full go for the playoffs.

[RELATED: Titans Cut Golden Tate]

There’s even a chance that Henry could play against the Texans in the season finale, Russini hears, though that’s thought to be something of a long shot. The Titans, of course, will be heavily favored with or without Henry, but they can clinch the AFC’s only first-round bye with a win.

Henry has been out since October after undergoing foot surgery. At the time of his injury in Week 8, he led the league in rushing yards (937) and rushing touchdowns (10). Extrapolated for a full season, that would have given Henry 2,027 rushing yards — enough to put him in Eric Dickerson territory, albeit with an extra game — and 17 touchdowns.

If Henry doesn’t play on Sunday, the Titans will continue to use D’Onta Foreman as their lead rusher. Foreman alone could be enough to give Houston fits, as shown by his 132-yard performance against the Dolphins last week.

Latest On Derrick Henry

Titans’ head coach Mike Vrabel informed reporters that running back Derrick Henry‘s 3-week return window could start this Wednesday after doing some work today, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter). The reigning holder of the rushing title has missed the last 8 games of the season with a foot injury. 

Henry opted to undergo potentially season-ending foot surgery after breaking the fifth metatarsal bone in his foot in the first half of Tennessee’s win in Indianapolis. His timeline for a return sat at around 6-10 weeks, which is turning out to be fairly accurate, meaning he could return for a Titans playoff run.

At the time of his injury, Henry led the league in rushing yards, with 937, and rushing touchdowns, with 10. Through 8 games, those numbers are astounding. In fact, if he had not been injured, and continued to hold that same pace of production, Henry would still lead the league in rushing yards and touchdowns and would be pushing close to his 2020 career-best of 2,027 yards and 17 touchdowns. Henry was just short of being on pace to be the first player in NFL history with two 2,000-yard rushing seasons in a career, let alone consecutively. D’Onta Foreman has done an admirable job showing up in Tennessee to fill in, but the return of Henry would immediately boost the Titans’ odds of win their first ever Super Bowl.

The Titans currently sit as the 1st Seed in the AFC and can clinch the conference’s only first round bye with a win over the Texans in Houston. That would give Henry an extra week of healthy practice as he works his way back to the game. The timing could line up perfectly for the Henry and the Titans, who have won consecutive division titles and are starting to become a mainstay in the NFL playoff picture with four appearances in the last five years.

AFC Notes: Henry, Mayfield, Jets, Steelers

Initially floated last month, the prospect of Derrick Henry coming back for the playoffs is moving closer to reality. Henry returning for the Titans‘ first postseason game is the plan, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes. Once thought to be out for the season, Henry has recovered well enough, per Rapoport, that the Titans would consider bringing him back for Week 18 — should the team need a win to reach the playoffs. Henry has been out since Week 8, when he suffered a Jones fracture in his foot. This would obviously be a tremendous development for the Titans, who have not been the same without the two-time reigning rushing champion. Henry’s 937 rushing yards still rank fifth in the NFL, despite the dominant back having missed the past six games. Henry underwent surgery Nov. 2.

Here is the latest from the AFC:

  • Although Baker Mayfield missed Monday’s game due to a positive COVID-19 test, the Browns quarterback has played through multiple injuries in the previous several weeks. The former No. 1 overall pick will, however, need offseason surgery and will be forced to wear a harness on his injured left shoulder the rest of this season, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports notes. Mayfield suffered a fractured shoulder bone in October. While some of Mayfield’s other injuries — of the knee and heel variety — have improved, the shoulder problem is unlikely to be in the rear-view mirror until after his 2022 surgery.
  • The Jets may be without their head coach in Week 16. Robert Saleh tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com tweets. Tight ends coach Ron Middleton would step in as acting head coach if Saleh remains sidelined on Sunday, when the Jets face the Jaguars.
  • Mekhi Becton has yet to resume practicing, with Saleh indicating earlier this week he had “no update” on his left tackle. Out with a dislocated kneecap he sustained in Week 1, Becton has yet to resume practicing. The Jets shutting down their left tackle would be wise here, Cimini writes. Two years remain on the 370-pound blocker’s contract, with a 2024 option included, but availability has become a concern for the 2020 first-rounder. Becton missed some time last season, and the Jets have previously levied discipline over his weight.
  • First-year Steelers offensive line coach Adrian Klemm has attracted interest from a high-profile college program. Oregon is pursuing the NFL assistant, ESPN.com’s Adam Rittenberg tweets. Promoted after two years as the Steelers’ assistant O-line coach, Klemm has only been an NFL assistant for three seasons. He worked as a college staffer previously, ending that run as a UCLA associate head coach. Oregon is assembling a new staff under recently hired HC Dan Lanning.

Titans Eyeing Derrick Henry January Return?

A few Derrick Henry timelines have been tossed around since the two-time reigning rushing champion went down. The latest suggests the Titans have not given up on their impact running back returning this season.

The Titans are optimistic Henry can return in early January, Dianna Russini of ESPN.com reports (video link). Henry is rehabbing a Jones fracture, an injury that an initial report indicated would knock him out for the season. But the AFC-leading team has a Henry return on its back burner.

Henry suffered the foot fracture on Halloween, and the Titans’ ground game has declined considerably. Adrian Peterson has averaged 2.3 yards per carry in two games since joining the team, and Jeremy McNichols is in the Titans’ concussion protocol. D’Onta Foreman has perhaps looked the best of Tennessee’s backs, but the workout circuit regular-turned-emergency fill-in is at 3.7 yards per tote. The Titans have continued to win without Henry, but their Julio Jones-less offense did not have an easy day in a narrow win over the Saints.

Tennessee is 1.5 games up in the race for the AFC’s bye and has wins over Buffalo and Kansas City. A bye would certainly boost Henry’s chances of returning this season. With the NFL adding a week to its schedule, the divisional round does not begin until Jan. 22. Even if the Titans fall out of the bye position, it appears they are not ruling out Henry returning for a mid-January wild-card game. Deebo Samuel beat the three-month mark in his recovery from a Jones fracture last year. The 49ers wide receiver suffered a Jones fracture in mid-June of last year and returned for the team’s Week 4 game on Oct. 4.

The Titans have Henry signed to a four-year, $50MM extension, which runs through 2023. Despite going down in Week 8, Henry still leads the NFL with 937 rushing yards. The organization will surely weigh Henry’s long-term health into a return equation, but it appears the sixth-year vet’s rehab is going well. The Titans also may have one of their better chances to reach a Super Bowl. The franchise has not earned a playoff bye since 2008 and has ventured to one Super Bowl in its history. Henry obviously would change the team’s playoff outlook.