Heisman winner Derrick Henry ready to dominate for Titans
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Derrick Henry has patiently waited for his chance to shine and now heading into his third NFL season the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner will have his chance.
Henry isn’t sharing any specific goals for yards or touchdowns, but the Tennessee Titans running back made one thing clear: He is looking forward to a big season.
“I definitely want to be dominant this year,” Henry said, adding that he plans to make the most of any opportunities he gets. The former Alabama standout said he just wants to “make plays for this offense, be a consistent back. Make plays any chance that I’m in there and just do what I’m asked.”
And above all else, Henry wants to “help this team win games.”
The soft-spoken Henry gave a glimpse of just what he could do in the NFL in the Titans’ comeback victory in Kansas City , running for 156 yards for the second-best playoff performance in franchise history.
But Henry doesn’t define being dominant by putting up big numbers.
Henry’s definition is “having a great game every game and have an impact every game at my position. .... How I make plays and what I do throughout the game to help this team win.”
There were questions why general manager Jon Robinson used his third pick in the second round in 2016 to select Henry only weeks after trading for DeMarco Murray , the 2014 NFL Offensive Player of the Year. Turned out to be a good move; the Titans cut Murray in March after his production dropped last season.
They also signed Dion Lewis to join Henry in the backfield, but the 6-foot-3, 247-pound Henry led the Titans with 744 yards rushing last season despite starting only two games and getting eight fewer carries than Murray.
“Dions’ a great guy, and we’ve been getting along very well,” Henry said. “Very excited to have a tandem together.”
The Titans aren’t saying who will start at running back. Tennessee plays Aug. 9 at Green Bay the regular season opener is Sept. 9 at Miami.
Lewis was signed for his skills catching passes out of the backfield to fit the new offense being installed by coordinator Matt LaFleur. Henry didn’t have as much of a chance to showcase his hands in college with just 17 catches, but he did have 35 yards receiving in last year’s wild-card game in Kansas City.
That helped Henry set a franchise-record in the postseason with 191 yards from scrimmage, topping the mark of 178 yards set by Billy Cannon on Jan. 1, 1961, in the AFL.
First-year head coach Mike Vrabel said everyone is working for a starting job.
“As we continue to work through the offense and through the plays and the complimentary type of football that we want to run, some of those things will sort themselves out. The plays that we like with Dion and the plays that we like with Derrick are going to start to emerge,” Vrabel said.
One thing’s for sure: LaFleur’s offense will be leaning on outside zone runs, and that should play into Henry’s strength. That’s what he ran in college at Alabama where he became the Crimson Tide’s all-time leading rusher with 3,591 yards and 42 TDs rushing.
“I like it a lot,” Henry said of the offensive scheme.
NOTES: Safety Johnathan Cyprien walked off the field Wednesday with trainers after apparently hurting his left knee. ... Vrabel said CB Malcolm Butler and DL Jurrell Casey had the day off to help them with a couple issues hoping they return Thursday. Vrabel said rookie LB Rashaan Evans, the No. 22 pick overall, is day to day with an unspecified injury. ... The Titans placed OT John Theus on the reserve/retired list.
Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker