Alabama in the Pros

Derrick Henry Showed it’s Time to Make Him the Lead Back in Tennessee

© Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Derrick Henry finished the 2017 season as the starting tailback for the Tennessee Titans due to an injury to their usual starter, DeMarco Murray. In their sole playoff victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, quarterback Marcus Mariota earned a lot of praise for leading the comeback, but Henry, too, played a large hand in the effort. Henry managed a career-high 156 yards and a score on 23 carries. That touchdown run was a huge 35-yarder to pull the Titans to within a score in fourth quarter:

This is not a knock on DeMarco Murray, who has been a spectacular back throughout the entirety of his NFL career. Instead, a ‘passing of the torch’ of sorts. On eight less carries, Henry managed 88 more yards than Murray, and his combination of speed and size is so rare that defenses are hardly able to bottle him up for long, especially late in games.

Coming out of Alabama, few thought much of Henry’s catching ability, but he has proven that he can do that, too. He was targeted 23 times this season, catching 16 of those for 192 yards and a score. Murray caught 39 of his 47 targets for 266 yards and a score, giving him a 6.8 yards per catch average and Henry a 12.0 yard average.

With a newly hired head coach in Mike Vrabel, change is already underway. The race to give Mariota the best possible team around him is underway, and a fresh-legged Derrick Henry is a great way to start that off.

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