NASHVILLE –Mike Vrabel said Monday the Tennessee Titans have discussed opening a practice window for running back Derrick Henry, and will likely make a decision on that later this week.
Henry has not played since Week 8 against Indianapolis, Oct. 31 when he suffered a foot injury in a victory over the Colts.
One of only eight running backs to top 2,000 yards in a single NFL season, Henry had carried 219 times for 937 yards (4.3-yard average) and 10 touchdowns in the Titans’ first eight games.
Henry is currently on injured reserve, so franchise officials could designate him to return from injured reserve this week. That would open a 21-day practice window for Henry. He would not take up a spot on the team’s 53-man roster until he was activated.
“We’ve discussed (opening the practice window),” Vrabel “We’ll see where that goes. You know, he’s doing some work today and we’ll see when that window (opens). Probably make a decision mid-week.”
Vrabel said one of the most important elements on deciding when Henry – or any player on injured reserve -- would return to practice and the 53-man roster would be an assessment from the player himself.
“I think that’s a vital part of it,” Vrabel said. “I think that’s critical that you have conversations with the player and find out where they’re at, where they’re at mentally and where they are physically.
“I also ask them to focus on things they can do and not the things they can’t. It’s good when the head coach and the position coach can know, `Hey, this is what we can expect from this player.’ A player says, `I can do this and I’m comfortable doing that,’ and then, `I don’t think I can do certain other things.’
“Now we have to make a decision on if that will be what’s best for the team to put somebody out there in that capacity. If they’re full go, they’re full go and there’s not much of a decision. But yeah, you always try to talk to a player and see where he’s at, see what his thoughts are.”
The Titans have continued to have success in the run game without Henry. Three of the team’s five best rushing totals have come over the past five weeks – 270 yards against New England, 201 yards against Pittsburgh and 198 yards against Miami. In Henry’s absence, D’Onta Foreman has been a revelation, carrying 112 times for 497 yards (4.4-yard average) and three touchdowns. Foreman has topped 100 yards three times in the past five weeks.
But a healthy Henry going into the playoffs would obviously be a huge boost for the Titans, who can clinch the AFC’s top seed with a win at Houston on Sunday.
In six seasons, Henry has rushed 1,401 times for 6,797 yards (4.9-yard average) and 65 touchdowns. He ran for 1,540 yards in 2019 and followed that with 2,027 last year.
Left tackle Taylor Lewan offered high praise to running backs Foreman, Dontrell Hilliard and Jeremy McNichols following Sunday’s win over Miami. But he was eagerly looking forward to Henry’s return as well.
“You miss the King,” Lewan said. “Not just him on the field, but him in the locker room with the boys. That guy is a huge staple of our team.”