Henry Showcases Stiff-Arm Once Again

Mike Hogan

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Titans were called for holding on the play, but it was the undoubted highlight of a game full of them and maybe even one of the most popular plays of the NFL’s still-young season.

Running back Derrick Henry carried the ball for a short gain in the second quarter of the Titans’ 42-16 victory over the Buffalo Bills. Along the way he stuck out his right arm and sent veteran cornerback Josh Norman flying like a feather off of his shoulder. Norman twisted in the air and landed feet ahead of Henry.

The pulverizing stiff arm sent off a wave or reaction on social media. Henry himself couldn’t help but smirk.

“I have been doing too many curls,” Henry said. “I have to lay off the arms.”

While that may be true, the reality is that stiff arming is one of Henry’s crafts.

Before the Titans’ Week 1 win over the Denver Broncos, Broncos free safety Justin Simmons called Henry’s stiff arm “one of the best in the league.”

Henry responded to that simply, as he always does. The 6-foot-3, 238-pound Henry said he has been using the move since he was a kid.

“It just came natural to me because I have long arms,” Henry said. “So, that's the first thing I use to break a tackle or get away from the defender. I've been doing it since I was a kid.”

He has continued to perfect in his professional career.

Last season, head coach Mike Vrabel and his staff noticed that defenders would try to attack Henry’s lower body while attempting to tackle him. At workouts, Henry often practices his stiff arm on a helmet that is attached to the end of a pole.

“The idea is just that the target changes, whether it's a low tackle, a high tackle,” Vrabel said in September. “Pretty similar to maybe a defensive player being cut blocked by an offensive player, that if you don't take your eyes and your hands down to the target they're going to get into your legs, so you really have to focus on that helmet area.”

So far this season, Henry, the 2019 rushing champion, has made a few things clear. He will not let anyone take his rushing title without a fight. The Pro Bowl running back ranks just outside of the top 10 in yards with 333. He has also continued to get better at a skill that makes him such an exciting player to watch.

Against the Bills, he finished with 57 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. But it was the one play that didn’t count that those who watched will remember most.

"I screamed, 'holy crap,'" quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. "That was unbelievable just to see the way he tossed that guy.

"Derrick is a special player. We've seen the stiff arm from him. I saw it all last year. I've seen it before I got here, highlights of it. Obviously, he's strong, physically a tough runner. That was probably one of the meanest stiff arms I've ever seen, no doubt."

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