The most excited person in football this week could be Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
When his team hosts the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday for a chance to play in the AFC Championship game, the Titans could have their big three back of A.J. Brown and former Alabama stars Derrick Henry and Julio Jones.
They're barely played together this season, and not since the week before Halloween, when Tennessee dismantled Kansas City, 27-3.
Brown has played in the last three games, and Jones has also been playing after dealing with hamstring issues for most of the season
Henry hasn’t played since he sustained a foot fracture in Week 8, but according to the FanNation site All Titans he's back practicing in full pads, and went through contact drills on Tuesday.
“I think that’s a good step,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. “We’ll have to have some contact. It’s been a while since he’s had contact. We’re going to have to do these things to replicate what’s going to be asked of him in a football game. So, we’ll have a week of work, we’ll see how he feels and make a decision.”
Henry can't be listed on the injury report until he’s activated to the 53-man roster, which could happen at any time.
As for Tannehill, Sharp Football Analysis reports that just 10.9 percent of his drop-backs this season came with Henry, Brown and Jones on the field. When that happened, the veteran quarterback averaged 9.4 yards per passing attempt, well above his overall season average of 7.0.
Had Tannehill kept that pace all season he would have led the league in that statistical category.
“Yeah, I’m excited to have our guys back,” Tannehill said Tuesday. “It’s a little bit different when you have guys back, guys you’ve played with a lot. So, it’s definitely a positive thing.
“But at the end of the day, you have to go and make the plays and execute. Just because you have guys back, or maybe (Henry) is coming back, just because he walks out there, doesn’t mean anything is going to happen. We have to go out and earn it and make the plays necessary to win the game.”
Game of the Week
There were 15 former Alabama players on active rosters who had their seasons end last week, and there aren't too many remaining among the eight remaining teams. There are no former Crimson Tide players on the 49ers or Packers, and just one active player on the Bengals, Rams, Buccaneers, Bills and Chiefs. The Titans are the exception with linebacker Rashaan Evans, Jones, Henry and defensive end Da'Shawn Hand on the practice squad.
NFL Playoffs Schedule
All Times CT
AFC: Cincinnati Bengals (11-7) at Tennessee Titans (12-5) (CBS/Paramount+), 3:30 p.m.
NFC: San Francisco 49ers (11-7) at Green Bay Packers (13-4) (FOX/FOX Deportes), 7:15 p.m.
NFC: Los Angeles Rams (13-5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (14-4) (NBC/Peacock/Universo), 2 p.m.
AFC: Buffalo Bills (12-6) at Kansas City Chiefs (13-5) (CBS/Paramount+), 5:40 p.m.
• Henry is only the third player since the league merger to lead the NFL in rushing yards per game for three straight seasons (minimum eight games each season). Even with his foot injury, Henry still finished ninth in league rushing this season with 937 yards. Henry has topped 150 rushing yards in a playoff game three times. The NFL record is four by Terrell Davis.
• Jones has 834 receiving yards (104.3 per game) and six receiving touchdowns in eight playoff game. He has 261 receiving yards (130.5 per game) in two career games against the Bengals.
• This is what parity looks like: With Cincinnati playing for a berth in the AFC Championship Game, approximately 60 percent of the league (19 of 32 teams) will have played for a berth in a conference Championship Game the past four seasons (2018-21).
• When the Bills scored touchdowns on each of their first seven possessions last week, they became the first team to accomplish that feat in any NFL game since the Patriots did it in Week 11 of the 2007 season.
• Bills cornerback Levi Wallace had his first career playoff interception last week against Mac Jones and the Patriots.
This report will be continually updated as necessary, and through the final game on the schedule.
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