Titans’ Derrick Henry most productive once in open field
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Titans running back Derrick Henry is nearly unstoppable once he breaks into the open field and sets his sight on the end zone.
He gets wide-eyed with anticipation. And for good reason — he’s been more productive than anyone in the NFL in those situations
“Oh, well my eyes get big if you haven’t seen any pictures,” Henry said Thursday of getting room to run. “But just credit to those guys up front and everybody blocking. I’m just making my reads doing the job the best I can. And if it’s open field, just trying to get six points.”
The 2015 Heisman Trophy winner has been the best in the NFL since the start of the 2017 season. He leads the league during that span with six touchdowns from scrimmage of 65 yards or longer. That’s one more than Tyreek Hill for Kansas City, two more than Pittsburgh wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and double the total of any running back.
Henry’s last scoring jaunt was Nov. 10, when he broke free for a 68-yarder in a 35-32 win over Kansas City. He currently ranks ninth in the NFL with 832 yards rushing and is tied for fourth with eight rushing TDs. Since Week 14 of last season, nobody in the league has run for more yards than Henry with 1,417 in that span.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel said one reason is Henry works hard and runs hard.
“He tries to finish runs, tries to take care of the football,” Vrabel said. “All the things that I think translate to the game, I think he tries to do. We try to get him the ball as many times as we think that we can to help us.”
Henry is coming off his best game this season running for 188 yards against Kansas City before Tennessee’s bye. Next up is a visit from Jacksonville (4-6) on Sunday, the team that Henry set a handful of records against last December in the Jaguars’ last trip to Nashville. That included tying the NFL record with a 99-yard TD run that Henry refuses to talk about anymore.
“That should be out the window by now,” Henry said. “I don’t want to talk about it no more.”
The 6-foot-3, 247-pound Henry certainly has the Jaguars’ attention.
“He’s a big back with good feet and has a monster stiff arm ...,” Jaguars defensive tackle Abry Jones said. “There’s not too many times you go out on Sunday and you look at a running back and you’re eye to eye. That’s a little different to deal with. He does a great job of being his size and being able to move lateral. It’s a bigger challenge to us, and we’re ready to take it.”
The Jaguars come in 29th in the NFL against the run, having allowed more than 200 yards rushing three times this season. That includes last week giving up 264 yard rushing to the Colts in a 33-13 loss.
They know the Titans won’t quit running if Jacksonville makes a couple early stops. That means swarm tackling Henry with what must be a group effort.
“He doesn’t go down with just one guy,” Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell said. “We’ve got to get penetration, get him going lateral, get his feet his stopped. When he gets rolling, he’s super-fast, super strong, has a great stiff-arm. He’s the whole package. We’ve got to get to him before he gets going.”
NOTES: The Titans were as healthy as they’ve been in a while Thursday. Casey (shoulder), WR Corey Davis (hip) and LB Jayon Brown (groin) all practiced fully for a second straight day. TE Delanie Walker (right ankle) was limited again, while CB Chris Milton (ankle) returned and was limited.
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