Titans' Derrick Henry 'Responded Well' to Contact at Practice Before Possible Return

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 19, 2022

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) runs against the Indianapolis Colts in the second half of an NFL football game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
AP Photo/Darron Cummings

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry "responded well" to contact in a padded practice Tuesday, per ESPN's Turron Davenport, potentially signaling a return to the field Saturday against the Cincinnati Bengals. 

Head coach Mike Vrabel had defensive players bang into Henry during individual drills to replicate in-game contact.

"It has been a while since he has had contact," Vrabel said Tuesday. "We will have a week of work, see how he feels, and make a decision."

Henry has been out since Week 8 because of a fractured foot, but he was designated to return Jan. 5, allowing him to participate in practices.

The 28-year-old spoke about his projected return to the field Wednesday:

Jim Wyatt @jwyattsports

.<a href="https://twitter.com/KingHenry_2?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@KingHenry_2</a>: I’m happy to be back playing football. <a href="https://twitter.com/Titans?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Titans</a> <a href="https://t.co/2riFlXBvJU">pic.twitter.com/2riFlXBvJU</a>

Paul Kuharsky @PaulKuharskyNFL

Big steel plate in my right foot. <a href="https://twitter.com/KingHenry_2?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@KingHenry_2</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Titans?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Titans</a> <a href="https://t.co/MDGm8HvVan">pic.twitter.com/MDGm8HvVan</a>

"I feel good," he told reporters. "I haven't done anything in two-and-a-half months. Just getting acclimated and getting back to being me."

Henry was dominant before the injury, totaling 937 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in eight games. He finished inside the top 10 in the NFL in each category despite playing less than half the regular season.

The 117.1 rushing yards per game would have easily led the league if he qualified, with only Jonathan Taylor (106.5) averaging more than 90 yards per game.

It was business as usual for Henry, who led the NFL in both rushing yards and touchdowns in each of the past two years. His 2,027 rushing yards in 2020 were the fifth-most in NFL history.

His return could be a significant boost for the Titans, who earned the No. 1 seed in the AFC and the conference's only bye. The week off gave Henry extra time to work his way back to full strength, which could be scary for the Bengals.

The running back couldn't commit to playing in Saturday's game, however.

Ben Arthur @benyarthur

Derrick, do you expect to play against the Bengals? <br><br>"We'll see how this week goes." <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Titans?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Titans</a>

John Glennon @glennonsports

<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Titans?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Titans</a>' Henry: As far as his workload on Sunday, says "we're not going to get into all that" right now.

After emerging as a reliable back over the second half of the season, D'Onta Foreman would see the majority of work if Henry is unavailable.