En route to becoming the NFL’s eighth member of the 2,000-yard club, Derrick Henry faced the same questions over and over and over again about how his body felt, if he felt tired at all and if the wear and tear would have any impact on him.
He grew exhausted of having to answer those questions quickly, explaining that he has sustained success with a large workload because of the time and effort he invests in taking care of himself year-round.
Not much has changed about Henry’s answers to those questions weeks after the Titans season ended in the wild card round. In fact, he hardly took any time off.
“Playing the position that we play (running back), we always get hit,” Henry told Mike Krzyzewski during an appearance on the legendary Duke basketball coach’s SirusXM radio show. “The span of a running back’s career is shorter than a lot of other positions. But after this season, after our playoff game, I really didn’t feel that bad or that beat up.
“Probably two days after we had our exit meetings, I went back to working out. I have been working out since.”
That should not come as a surprise. Henry recently said he will not lose an ounce of motivation until the Titans can reach the ultimate goal. And that, of course, is the Super Bowl.
After the season he turned in, some time off would have been justified. He has led the league in carries in back-to-back seasons, which culminated in him becoming the 10th player in league history to win consecutive rushing titles.
This past season, he ran it 378 times for 2,027 yards, the fifth-highest single-season total ever. He also led the league in yards per-game (126.7) and rushing touchdowns (17) and a whopping 47 percent of his yards came after contact this season (954).
Only 14 players have had more rushing attempts in a season.
“You just work on those things continuously,” Henry said. “That’s what I try to do every year. Even though I might be really good at something, I can always be better. Never be complacent and always staying hungry.
“… Year after year, offseason after offseason, I try to work on everything in all aspects of my game, just so I can be the best version of myself to be able to help my team.”
Overall, Henry put another hefty stamp on his already Hall-of-Fame-worthy résumé. All nine of the previous back-to-back rushing champions have been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Additionally, four of the other seven 2,000-yard rushers are Hall of Famers. A fifth, Adrian Peterson, is not yet eligible but is certain to be there when his time comes.
Despite all of that, though, Henry has never been one to be in awe about his accomplishments. He has tabbed himself as his “worst critic,” including on Krzyzewski’s show.
So, back to work he goes.
“I work out like four or five times a week,” he said. “I get right back at it. My body doesn’t hurt. Usually, when you have that many carries, that many yards and that many hits, it will take a wear at you. But I feel fine. I feel good.
“I am back working, looking forward to next year.”