NASHVILLE – Heading into the homestretch during the 2018 season, the Titans leaned on Derrick Henry, and the big back delivered.
Henry played the best football of his NFL career the second half of last year, and he nearly lifted the team into the playoffs.
With seven games left, the Titans need their key cogs on offense to deliver, starting with Sunday’s game against the Chiefs.
Will the Titans rely heavily on Henry once again?
“We have to get going, and he’s a great part,” Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith said of Henry. “If he gets going again, and we’re very optimistic … we’ll be a better football team. He’s been doing a good job all year.”
Henry has enjoyed a solid season for the Titans. Through nine games, Henry has 644 yards and six touchdowns on 164 carries.
After nine games in 2018, Henry had just 358 yards and four touchdowns on 101 carries. He finished the year with 1,059 yards and 12 touchdowns.
On Thursday, Henry said he welcomes the opportunities. In last week’s loss to the Panthers, Henry had just two carries in the first half, but he finished with 63 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.
As a team, Henry knows it’s go-time.
“I think we all know it -- we all have to have a sense of urgency,” Henry said. “We know what we are up against, we know what we have to do. So we have to have a sense of urgency every day, whether that is in meetings, in practice, in the weight room, just have a sense of urgency in all that we do.”
On Sunday, the Titans will face a Kansas City defense that’s ranked 29th in the NFL in rushing defense. The Chiefs have allowed some big rushing yards in some games, including 203 vs. the Ravens, 186 vs. the Lions, 180 vs. the Colts and 192 vs. the Texans.
The Chiefs have been better against the run in recent weeks, however.
“Stats say (they’ve struggled), but on film it looks different – they fly around,” Henry said of the Chiefs. “So I think they’re a good run defense.
“If the good Lord lets it happen (and we have success), I’ll be happy. But I think they’re a good defense -- it’s going to be a challenge.”
The Tennessee Titans practice on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019 at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Donald Page)