Alabama in the Pros

Derrick Henry’s monster offseason has him ready to defend his NFL rushing crown

Christopher Hanewinckel - USA TODAY Sports

He was different in high school, he was different in college, and he took over the National Football League in his fourth season.

Prior to him getting selected in the second round of the 2016 venue, draft experts did not believe Derrick Henry’s game would translate to the pros. People thought he was too big, not shifty enough and lacked the ability to be a receiver out the backfield; however, the native Floridian and former Alabama running back had the best coaches and teams in fear of him last season.

After missing the playoffs in 2018, Henry put the Tennessee Titans on his back and carried it to the AFC Championship Game. The 6-foot-3, 247-pounder was first in the league for carries (303) and rushing yards (1,540) with 16 touchdowns. 

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Henry posted eight 100-yard performances – including four games of 180-plus yards. 

In playoff matchups versus New England and Baltimore, the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner pounded the two best run defenses in the league.

He recorded at least 30 carries against both teams and 180+ yards rushing. Despite his power, Henry displayed impressive speed for someone his size – which makes him more difficult to tackle. He earned his first Pro Bowl invitation and crowned the NFL’s rushing champion. The Titans chose to franchise-tag him on March 16, and he signed in on April 2.

As both parties are working on a long-term deal, the powerful rusher is preparing his body to defend his crown. He’s been going through rigorous workouts that include running up a hill with a medicine ball, while catching a football. 

Henry has also trained on footwork, doing push-ups on a hill, and finding unconventional methods to get himself ready for year No. 5.

He wants to prove that a bigger back has market value in the NFL and fans will have all eyes on him.  

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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