The Titans on Thursday informed running back DeMarco Murray of their plans to release him. Immediately, the question became: Is Derrick Henry ready to carry the load? Let’s take a look at the biggest moments of his two-year career with the Titans so far.
Immediately, the question became: Is Derrick Henry ready to carry the load?
Well, Henry did it in high school, where he broke the national high school rushing record with a whopping 12,124 yards. And he did it at the University of Alabama, where he racked up a school-record 3,591 yards en route to winning the Heisman Trophy.
Yes, this is the NFL. It’s not Yulee High, and it’s not the SEC.
And the possibility of the Titans adding an additional back, either in free agency or the NFL Draft, still remains.
But for now, Henry is the man in the spotlight.
So let’s take a look at the biggest moments of his two-year career with the Titans so far.
Saving the day in K.C.
With Murray sidelined with a knee injury, Henry got a big opportunity in the team’s playoff game against the Chiefs.
He made the most of it. Henry led the team with 156 rushing yards and a touchdown on 23 carries in his first playoff start. He also caught two passes for 35 yards out of the backfield.
Henry’s 191 scrimmage yards set a new single-season postseason record for the franchise, breaking a 57-year old record. Henry’s 35-yard touchdown run with 14:08 to play was huge, and his 22-yard run for a first down on 3rd-and-10 with 1:53 remaining sealed it.
Take that, Jaguars
Henry, who grew up just outside of Jacksonville, was a real pain for the Jaguars in 2017.
Just ask Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
Henry ran for 92 yards and a touchdown on just 14 carries in Tennessee’s win in Jacksonville in Week 2, and he through Ramsey on his way into the end zone on a 17-yard run. Henry scored on a 66-yard touchdown catch in the Week 17 meeting, and throw in his 51 rushing yards that day and he had 117 all-purpose yards.
In a 2016 game against the Jaguars, Henry racked up 60 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries, and he also caught four passes for 37 yards.
Kicking it vs the Colts
In 2017, Henry also had big success against the Colts.
On a Monday night in October, Henry sealed the game with a 72-yard touchdown run on a third-and-five. The run was the longest of Henry’s career (at the time), and it was part of a 131-yard performance. It was the first 100-yard game of Henry’s career.
Henry had another big game in Indianapolis in November, leading the team with 79 yards on 13 carries. During the team’s game-winning drive in the fourth quarter, he had five carries for 42 yards, and one reception for 10 yards. He sealed the game with a 16-yard run on the first play after the two-minute warning.
Big run vs Texans
Henry has turned in some explosive plays during his career, but the biggest one so far – from a distance standpoint – came against Houston, on December 3, 2017 at Nissan Stadium.
Henry led the team 109 rushing yards in a 24-13 win, and he capped off the victory with a 75-yard touchdown run. It was the longest run of his career, topping the long run vs. Indianapolis from a month earlier.
Henry became only the first Titans player with two or more carries of at least 70 yards in a season since running back Chris Johnson had three such carries in 2012.
Sign of things to come
Henry led the Titans with 744 rushing yards in 2017, and it topped his 490-yard total from his rookie season in 2016.
In his rookie season, Henry offered a sign of things to come during the team’s December 18 game at Arrowhead Stadium, when he ran for 58 yards and two touchdowns as the Titans rallied for a win against the Chiefs.
Henry was a difference-maker that day, and he saw his role expand in his second NFL season, in part because of Murray’s injuries. In 2017, Henry also earned more carries with his production.
Heading into 2018, Henry will have an opportunity to prove he can be a real workhorse for the Titans.