Jim Wyatt, SENIOR WRITER/EDITOR
NASHVILLE – Titans running back Derrick Henry isn’t worried about the past. As he looks ahead to the 2019 season, he knows his production at the end of the 2018 season means nothing now.
“It’s starting over,” Henry said following a recent OTA. “We’re not worried about last year – last year is in the past. You have to start over.”
As he heads into the final year of his contract, he’s also not concerned with 2020, and beyond. He changed the subject with a “next question” when the topic came up.
“It’s football,” Henry said. “I fell in love with it before the money. I love football.”
This offseason, it’s all about the here and now for Henry. The Titans wrapped up OTAs last week, and they’ll kick off a three-day minicamp on Tuesday at Saint Thomas Sports Park.
Henry is focused on getting better now, so he’ll be ready come fall under offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, who was promoted from tight ends coach earlier this offseason.
“I love Arthur, so it has been fun,” Henry said. “I have known Arthur going on year 4, so I am excited, and now it’s about building team chemistry when we’re out here. You build on the positives and try to improve on the negatives. …
“Just continue to get good at things you were really good at, and make them great. That’s what every player out here is trying to do, and we’re trying to do that as a team collectively.”
Henry was great at the end of the 2018 season.
In five games in the month of December, Henry’s rushing totals included 97 carries for 625 yards and eight touchdowns. Henry set a franchise record with 238 yards in a game vs. the Jaguars, and he piled up 170 yards a week later in a win over the Giants. His 625 yards were the most by any NFL player in any calendar month this season. Henry was named the AFC’s Offensive Player of the Month for December.
Henry’s final numbers for 2018: 215 carries, 1,059 yards and 12 touchdowns, with a 4.9 yard average.
Smith said the team hopes to build off the success.
“Just taking from what we did at the end of the year,” Smith said of Henry. “Any back in there… We come up with a plan for all these guys in the offseason, what we want to see and realistically what you can develop in the spring. You can have all these grand goals and there are certain things you can’t see out here in the spring.
“(But) he certainly did a nice job at the end of the year, and we just hope to build on that.”
Smith mentioned a combination of things – perimeter blocking, up front blocking, Henry’s comfort level in the system — when asked why Henry was so much more effective in the second half of 2018 compared to the first half of the year, but he didn’t pinpoint the turnaround to anything in particular.
Henry acknowledged during the 2018 season he was more decisive during the latter part of the year, citing a midseason pep talk from Titans great Eddie George.
“Obviously something broke through where we were hitting on different cylinders,” Smith said.
Henry said he’s trying to improve on everything to get ready for camp.
His goal has nothing to do with personal goals.
“Being efficient, being consistent and making big plays,” he said. “I want to be a playmaker for this team, in this offense.”