Derrick Henry can regain dominant form despite injury
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry was set to break several NFL records in 2021. He would likely have attempted the most rushes in a season and become the first player to cross the 500-touch threshold. , to run over 2,000 yards in the back. consecutive seasons and become the first running back since Walter Payton in 1980 to lead the NFL in rushing attempts for four consecutive seasons.
Then Henry broke his foot.
The injury required surgery and the Titans haven’t given Henry a timeline to return. Some say he could come back as early as week 16 or 17, others think it’s closer to the AFC Championship weekend if the Titans get that far. Either way, it’s a devastating blow to the Titans’ seasonal aspirations as well as Henry’s quest to become arguably the most unstoppable running back in NFL history.
Henry seemed indestructible until this injury. The towering 6-foot-5, 250-pound runner had the power of a freight train and the speed of a Bugatti and had only missed one game since 2016. He had already totaled 1,091 yards in 237 touches and 11 touchdowns – all leading the league. It’s unclear exactly where or when the injury occurred in the Titans’ Week 8 overtime win over the Indianapolis Colts, but whether Henry suffered a Jones fracture – a fracture on the fifth metatarsal – on his right foot, this was most likely due to overuse and stress. on the bones rather than an instance.
Including the playoffs, Henry has touched the ball 1,064 times in just 43 games since 2019. That use certainly contributed to his injury, but Henry was built to handle that kind of workload and dominate. Its size, speed and training programs are tailor-made to get through today’s defenses.
The average weight of a starting NFL linebacker has dropped seven pounds since 1999, from 245 pounds to just 238 pounds this season. While that doesn’t sound like much, it played a big role in Henry’s ability to cross and pass defenders during his time in the league. Former NFL running backs Eddie George and Brandon Jacobs have also observed this trend.
“They’re like defensive backs playing in the box,” George told Yahoo Sports ahead of Week 8. “So they’re not designed to stop power.”
“When I was playing we had Jeremiah Trotters of the world, the Brian Urlachers, there was Ray Lewis, guys like that – 240, 245, 250 pounds going down to stop the race,” Jacobs said. “That these guys don’t exist in the NFL anymore.”
What’s now key for Derrick Henry after injury
Henry’s foot injury doesn’t change these must-see facts. It will affect his production for this season, but a healthy Henry would arguably remain the most dominant running back in the league.
The next phase of his return will be how he heals and trains. This is where Melvin Sanders comes in; he has been developing off-season training programs for Henry since 2017 with a focus on building lean muscle mass, mobility exercises in the legs, shoulders and spine as well as recovery work without exercising unnecessary pressure on Henry’s body.
“Over the years he just worked tirelessly on this [regimen]”Sanders told Yahoo Sports before Week 8.” Like year after year, just to make sure he’s healthy with his recovery, he’s got good nutrition, has a private chef. And with the mobility and movement work that we also do, make sure the body stays as optimal and lean as it can be. “
While it’s not yet clear if Henry will return in 2021, he’s proven two things this season: he’s human after all, and he’s still one of the most dominant rushers in NFL history. How Henry recovers from adversity following a serious injury will be crucial to his position among the league’s top players.
Short-term replacement for Henry
Almost immediately, the Titans found someone to possibly replace Henry in the backfield. Tennessee added Adrian Peterson to the roster on Monday, a running back who has enjoyed a career similar to Henry’s. Peterson’s has also led the NFL in the past in rushing and rushing yards, suffered and returned from a serious lower body injury, and has averaged a crazy workload over the past 15 seasons. Peterson averaged 19 touches per game, while Henry averaged 17 touches per game.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Titans deploy Peterson the same way Henry did. The 36-year-old saw more than 15 touches per game in the first 12 games of the 2020 season for the Lions before D’Andre Swift took over in the latter part of the year. Peterson is by no means Henry – both in terms of height, racing style, and age – but his experience in these types of bell cow situations is enormous for the Titans and potentially even excellent for Henry in. as a mentor.
Also, how often do you see two generational players in the same position on the same roster?