Titans HC Mike Vrabel’s Latest Update on Derrick Henry Puts the NFL on Notice Just in Time for the Playoffs

The Tennessee Titans have been somewhat of a surprise team in the second half of the 2021 NFL season. They’ve been playing without All-Pro running back Derrick Henry since Week 8. Still, Tennessee is close to locking up the AFC’s No. 1 seed in the NFL playoffs. Mike Vrabel makes a solid case to win the Coach of the Year Award.

Vrabel delivered some promising news on King Henry, which could spell trouble for the rest of the conference.

Mike Vrabel has good news on Derrick Henry

Titans head coach Mike Vrabel shakes hands with Derrick Henry
Derrick Henry of the Tennessee Titans celebrates with Mike Vrabel during game against the Indianapolis Colts | Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

The Tennessee Titans’ season appeared to be in jeopardy when Derrick Henry suffered a broken foot during the Week 8 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

The Titans placed the 28-year-old running back on injured reserve. The injury seemed to be season-ending, but the 2-time Pro Bowler has been rehabbing and working himself back into game shape.

The team designated Henry to return from injured reserve ahead of Week 18. The Alabama product returned to the practice field, but fans will need to wait to see him in live game action.

According to ESPN, Tennessee did not activate the star running back for the regular-season finale against the Houston Texans. Still, the team expects Henry to be ready for the playoffs.

Head coach Mike Vrabel appears encouraged by Henry’s progress.

“We have some time to make that decision, and we will evaluate where we are at,” said Vrabel. “But I think that he looked good. We continue to track his speed, mileage, and volume and see how he responds. I feel good about where he is at.”

If Derrick Henry is back, the AFC better watch out.

The Titans have held down the fort in their star RB’s absence

Even though Derrick Henry has missed more than half of the season, the Tennessee Titans are still sitting atop the AFC standings.

Historically, the Titans have used the sixth-year running back as a workhorse. Henry led the NFL in rush attempts, rushing yards, and touchdowns in 2019 and 2020. He was on pace to do so again in 2021.

Before going down, Henry carried the ball 219 times for 937 yards and 10 touchdowns. That’s a lot of production missing from Tennessee’s offense. He’s missed eight games but still ranks seventh in the league in rushing yards. That’s pure dominance.

Naturally, the assumption was that the team’s chances at a Super Bowl went down the drain. However, Mike Vrabel’s squad is proving its resiliency and toughness.

While the Titans haven’t been dominant offensively, they’ve been able to hold their own in Henry’s absence. D’Onta Foreman has led the charge. The former Texans running back has rushed for 497 yards and three touchdowns on 112 carries.

Henry was the driving force behind the Titans’ offense. It was unclear how quarterback Ryan Tannehill would fare without his All-Pro running back. It hasn’t been pretty, but Tannehill has found ways to get the job done. The emergence of A.J. Brown has undoubtedly helped.

The defense is a top-10 unit, which has also helped pick up the slack down the stretch.

Does King Henry make Tennessee a legitimate Super Bowl contender?


NFL Playoff Picture: How the Tennessee Titans Can Clinch the No. 1 Seed in the AFC in Week 18

Even though Derrick Henry won’t be suiting up against the Houston Texans, all signs indicate him being available for the NFL playoffs.

If Mike Vrabel’s crew beats Houston, it will secure the No. 1 seed in the AFC. As a result, the Tennessee Titans would get a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

With an extra two weeks to rest, King Henry could return at full strength for Tennessee. It’s important to remember that he’s coming off a foot injury, so he may not resume his normal workload. The Titans shouldn’t need him to, though.

D’Onta Foreman has proven that he can be productive in this offense. He’ll be able to spell Henry when he needs a breather. Regardless, Vrabel is going to stick to the game plan. The Titans are going to ground and pound on offense.

Tennessee will most feel Henry’s return in the second half of games. The 6-foot-3, 247-pound bruising running back wears opposing defenses down throughout games and often delivers knockout blows in the fourth quarter.

Many other contenders in the AFC don’t stop the run exceptionally well, with the Cincinnati Bengals being the exception (96 yards per game). The Titans should have the edge on the ground no matter who they play.

Getting Derrick Henry back won’t be the end all be all, but he should provide a significant boost to a team with plenty of momentum. The AFC is wide open, and Tennessee has what it takes to make a Super Bowl run.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.