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NASHVILLE – The trumpets didn’t blare when Derrick Henry opened the glass doors and walked back onto the practice field Wednesday.

There was no rolling out the red carpet to celebrate the return of The King. Nor were rose petals sprinkled in his path.

In fact, if one was to describe the Tennessee Titans’ reaction to Henry practicing for the first time since he broke a foot on Oct. 31, it would be more of a firm, friendly handshake than a long-lasting embrace.

The Titans didn’t go too far out of their way in downplaying Henry’s return, but it was clear they didn’t want to turn the event into a national holiday either.

The less than over-the-top celebration wasn’t meant as a slight to Henry, a team captain and one of the hardest working, most well-respected players on the team. Instead, it seemed more an effort to maintain tunnel vision on Sunday’s big priority: beating the Houston Texans and clinching the AFC’s No. 1 seed for the first time since 2008.

“Derrick’s a great football player,” left tackle Taylor Lewan said. “When he does play, whether it’s this week, next week or the week after, that’s going to be an exciting time because he’s a special player. But right now, we have to focus on this week.”

Coach Mike Vrabel took a similar approach when asked what he thought Henry’s excitement level might be upon his first practice in over two months, following an injury that necessitated surgery and weeks of rehabilitation.

“I don’t know. I am not going to speak for (Henry’s) excitement,” Vrabel said, immediately shifting the spotlight back to Sunday. “I am excited. I can speak on my excitement to coach this football team to have a chance to go on the road and do everything we can to try and win. That is what I will speak on.”

So much for the melodramatics. Maybe we’ll see and hear more jumping for joy when Henry actually plays his first game.

Will that come Sunday in Houston?

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The argument could be made Henry might benefit from a few pre-playoff carries, just to let him work on his vision and timing – knocking off the rust -- after such a long layoff. Along those lines, Vrabel said the Titans’ coaching staff will do its best to give Henry a taste of game conditions over the next couple days in practice.

“I think we will try to do everything we can for the players that are coming back to try to recreate, to give them the confidence and the trust that they can go out there and do their job,” Vrabel said. “We try and do that with every player that is returning.”

On the other hand, the Titans might well choose to sit Henry on Sunday, giving him at least one more week – if not two – of rest, rehab and practice before getting back into a game. Another potential reason to delay Henry’s return? If Henry remained on IR this week, the Titans would save a roster spot. With a number of players having recently returned from injury and COVID, the roster currently sits at a full 53, something that hasn’t always been the case this year.

“I think there is a going to be a lot of decisions that we have to make,” Vrabel said. “That is a good thing. There were weeks where we had ruled seven players out and we were bringing guys from the practice squad to get a healthy 48 guys to the roster.

“We talked about that this morning in the squad meeting. Their preparation, how they practice and really the roles that they can play for us on Sunday going in to make those decisions, at every position.”

Eventually, whether this week or in the playoffs, Henry will return to game action, and the Titans will benefit from a well-rested, healthy star running back. The 6-foot-3, 247-pound Henry is approaching the 7,000-yard mark for his rushing career. He became just the eighth back in NFL history to run for over 2,000 yards in a single season last year and had 937 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in eight games this season.

Surely that would provide a huge psychological boost. Right, Kevin Byard?

“I mean, it’s great,” Byard said. “Obviously I don’t know how much of a psychological boost it’s going to be because I think we’ve been having a lot of success running the ball. But obviously having King back will be great for everybody and great for our offense as well, especially how defenses are going to try to defend us.”

As Byard pointed out, running backs D’Onta Foreman, Dontrell Hilliard and Jeremy McNichols have not just survived, but thrived in Henry’s absence. The three have combined for 908 yards and five touchdowns over the past eight games, averaging 4.7 yards per carry.

That said, Henry is Henry. Few if any current running backs compare, few if any force defenses to adjust as much as he does, few if any do as much to open up a team’s passing attack.

Maybe that’s why quarterback Ryan Tannehill allowed himself to be a touch more animated than some when discussing Henry’s return.

“Derrick is a heck of a player,” Tannehill said. “Any time we can get him back out here working and working his way to going out and competing with us is going to be huge for us.”