NASHVILLE – After a slow start, the Derrick Henry train started rolling at the end of the 2018 season for the Titans.
And with Henry’s success, the Titans leaned on their bruising running back more and more, with great results.
In five December games, the Titans went 4-1, when Henry ran for 625 yards and eight touchdowns.
So, do the Titans plan on riding the big back at the start of the 2019 season?
It sure sounds like it.
“He proved that he can step in there and carry the load, and we’ll try to put that right back on him,” Titans General Manager Jon Robinson said of Henry at the NFL owners meetings. “We’ll certainly be mindful of the carries that he’s getting and the touches that he’s getting.
“But all those running backs and receivers, skill players, the more they can get the ball the more they like it.”
Henry’s final numbers for 2018: 215 carries, 1,059 yards and 12 touchdowns, with a 4.9 yard average.
Henry was named the AFC's Offensive Player of the Month for December. Henry set a franchise record with 238 yards in a game vs. the Jaguars, and he piled up 170 yards a week later in a win over the Giants.
“I loved it. I loved it,” Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk said of Henry's success. “Nobody works harder than Derrick, and he just proved what we all knew he had. I am excited to see what he does this year. I know it is going to be a good year for him.”
Titans head coach Mike Vrabel praised Henry at the NFL owners meetings as well.
Vrabel said Henry ran hard, he ran angry, and he ran physical at the end of the year. He liked the confidence in his game, and thought he brought a swagger to the entire rushing offense down the stretch.
Vrabel reminded the Titans also have running back Dion Lewis, and he’s coming off a year when he ran for 517 yards and a score. Lewis was also second on the team in receptions with 59, and he was third on the team with 400 receiving yards. Henry had 15 catches for 99 yards in 2018.
Nonetheless, Vrabel plans on Henry being a big piece in offensive coordinator Arthur Smith’s offense.
“I think that is where the whole plan would like to start,” Vrabel said. “If Derrick can do what he did at the end of the year at the start this year, he’s certainly going to get a lot more opportunities.
“We’re going to have to be able to use Dion and whoever else we have on the roster to complement (Derrick) in different aspects. There’s things that we can do to continue to let Derrick improve and getting the ball to him. He caught it well when we threw it to him, when he had opportunities to catch it on the move and gain some yards. So we know what his skill sets are and we just have to try to combine his efforts with what we are trying to do to get him the ball.”
Titans Online looks back at RB Derrick Henry's 2018 season, in which he rushed for a career-high 1,059 yards and 12 touchdowns. (AP Photos)