NASHVILLE, Tenn. — As Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill was working reps with the first-team offense, one thing was totally different.
He did not have his star wideout since he turned the starter in 2019, after A.J. Brown was traded within the offseason, however that wasn’t it.
A number of it needed to do along with his security blanket being caught in… a sandpit?
That’s proper, star working again Derrick Henry wasn’t on the receiving finish of Tannehill’s handoffs like regular within the offseason, he was as an alternative working in… a sandpit.
“It is actual,” Henry mentioned of the sandpit with assistant power and conditioning coach Brian Bell maintaining an in depth watch on issues. “I find it irresistible. It will get me in form. It is simply good work. It is good restricted working. It’s a must to actually dig, and it will get your legs burning.”
Henry has discovered a brand new supply of motivation from those that doubt he’ll be himself after a Jones fracture of his proper foot derailed his 2021 season, however the sandpit is likely one of the many ways in which Henry goes about attacking every day seeking bouncing again.
He admitted to being fueled by the doubters and responded with “We gonna see” when requested in regards to the rumblings that he was on the decline. As Henry ran by way of the sandpit, it turned clear that his higher physique was larger. However he would not appear to have misplaced the breakaway velocity that led to many huge runs over his profession.
However the questions are nonetheless there as Henry, who missed the ultimate 9 regular-season video games in 2021, enters his seventh season.
New York Giants working again Saquon Barkley shared Henry’s motto of each day enchancment by attacking every day after Barkley missed six video games final season due to an ankle damage and has additionally been earmarked for a decline after speeding for less than 593 yards final season.
Like Henry, Barkley desires to point out that he is not on the decline, however he was extra direct about it.
“I simply wish to kill, simply go loopy,” Barkley mentioned. “I am bored with the BS that’s mentioned about me or this crew, and I wish to go on the market and show to this group that the participant they drafted continues to be there.”
Regardless of solely enjoying in eight video games, Henry completed within the high 1o in speeding yards (937) and speeding touchdowns (10) and tied for the second-most runs of 40 yards or extra (two) final season.
Henry, who was main the league in speeding on the time of his damage, was on tempo for his third consecutive season with at the least 300 carries . He was trending towards changing into the primary participant to hurry for two,000 or extra yards in two seasons.
Neither Henry nor the Titans had been ever involved about Henry’s workload. They’d their eyes on the larger image: Successful.
“Getting Derrick the ball provides us a greater likelihood to win,” offensive coordinator Todd Downing mentioned early final season. “The steadiness is wins and losses.”
Added Henry, “No matter I can do to assist, I’m at all times for it.”
The Titans’ bodily type of play begins with giving Henry loads of carries to set the tone on offense. Henry’s 900 complete carries over the past three seasons are greater than another again.
“Derrick’s a quantity man,” Titans common supervisor Jon Robinson mentioned. “He desires the ball. He likes it once we give it to him. That is a steadiness that it’s a must to, from a training standpoint with trainers, with the power coaches, simply work out what’s greatest for the soccer crew. Crucial factor is the provision of the participant numerous instances, extra so than the power of the participant.”
Henry mentioned it was good to get again for the divisional playoff sport towards the Cincinnati Bengals final January, regardless of the final result. It allowed him to overcome many of the rehab course of and supplied an opportunity to see how the foot held up in reside motion.
Getting sport motion carried over into the offseason and allowed him to return again able to go.
As soon as minicamp rolled round, it was clear that Henry put within the essential work through the offseason. Titans coach Mike Vrabel, vp of sports activities drugs Todd Toriscelli, head power and conditioning coach Frank Piraino and Henry collectively got here up with a program to handle Henry’s workload throughout coaching camp.
“He is in a great place,” Vrabel mentioned. “Derrick desires to be as concerned as potential. Now we have open dialogue. He is been nice, and he is been all for no matter it’s that we resolve and we predict is greatest for him, and in the end the crew.”
Henry participated in particular person intervals of follow and was within the backfield at instances after they labored on inside runs to get some contact with defenders, however he was totally on a special area when the Titans went to crew intervals and seven-on-seven, even in joint practices with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Along with the sandpit, Henry sometimes did wind sprints with coach Piraino whereas the offense had reside reps towards the protection. Different instances he’d work on cross catching with working backs coach Tony Dews.
“I am simply trying to enhance each day,” Henry mentioned. “At all times working to be in form. That is why coach Vrabel has me on this plan so when it is time to go, I am prepared and in a position to reply.”
At 28 years outdated, Henry is inching nearer to the dreaded age of 30 for working backs, an age the place decline appears to occur shortly.
However that is not one thing that Henry thinks about. His focus is on being obtainable to assist the crew.
Henry can look to Adrian Peterson for instance of nonetheless with the ability to run the ball properly regardless of getting lengthy within the tooth. Peterson was 30 when he carried the ball 327 instances for 1,485 yards.
“It’s my mindset,” Peterson mentioned. “I don’t get into the 30-year-old working again factor, that you simply’re executed at 30. I get stronger with age.”
Sarcastically, Peterson was 36 years outdated when the Titans signed him after Henry’s damage final season, making him the oldest lively working again within the NFL.
Now Henry will look to make the kind of return that Peterson had when he was 27 getting back from tearing his MCL and meniscus to hurry for two,097 yards.
The workload has began to ramp up over the previous week with Henry participating in additional crew intervals.
“Coach Vrabel and our power/teaching employees assist me keep in form,” Henry mentioned. “I normally get good work in proper earlier than the season begins. Coach Dews does an important job ensuring that we’re prepared so we’re seeing it and getting north and south when the time comes.”