Unexpected Bye Will Cost Henry Rushing Lead (For Now, At Least)

The Titans running back had more rushing yards than anyone else through the first three weeks, but others -- who will play in Week 4 -- are not far back.
Author:
Publish date:

Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans will not play the Pittsburgh Steelers this week due to a growing coronavirus outbreak within the Titans’ organization, which has infected nine players and nine staff members as of Sunday morning.

However, through three games, the Titans running back is doing his best to make sure nobody takes his crown without a fight.

Henry currently leads the league with 319 rushing yards. In his previous four seasons, he never had more than 210 yards after three games (2019). The NFL’s 2019 rushing champion had 26 carries for 119 yards and a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs in the second half of last Sunday’s 31-30 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

This week’s unexpected bye almost certainly will cause him the relinquish the top spot for now.

A breakdown of Henry’s pursuers for the rushing title with Week 4 at hand:

LEADING CONTENDERS

Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers

Aaron Jones continues to prove that he won’t fade away in the race. He is second to Henry in the standings with 303 yards on 50 carries. In the Packers’ win over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, Jones had 69 yards on 16 carries. In a Week 2 win over the Detroit Lions, Jones had 18 attempts for 168 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers will surely get his chances to throw the football, but it’s clear that Jones will get his share of carries at the same time.

Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings

Dalvin Cook started off slowly. In his first two games combined, Cook had compiled just 113 yards on 26 carries. Sunday against the Titans, however, Cook put himself right back in the rushing title race. In the 31-30 loss, he ran the ball 22 times for 181 yards and had a 36-yard touchdown. Cook averaged more than eight yards per carry.

Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns

Nick Chubb has rushed for 100 yards or more in each of his past two contests. On Sunday against the Washington Football Team, he had 19 carries for 108 yards and two touchdowns. On the season, Chubb has 292 yards and is averaging 5.7 yards per carry.

Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders

Josh Jacobs has yet to rush for more than 100 yards in a game this season, but he has done enough to rank among the top five in yards with 252. Jacobs was the only rookie to have more than 1,000 rushing yards last season.

OTHER CANDIDATES

Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers

Austin Ekeler has gotten off to a nice start this season. He is sixth in the league with 236 yards on 47 carries.

James Conner, Pittsburgh Steelers

James Conner has ran for more than 100 yards in each of his last two games after recording only nine yards in Week 1. Conner has 224 yards in total.

Kenyan Drake, Arizona Cardinals

Kenyan Drake has picked up where he left off. The 26-year-old running back has rushed for more than 60 yards in each of his three games this season for a total of 219.

Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys

Ezekiel Elliott is tied with Drake with 219 yards. Elliott has won the rushing title twice in his career and has never rushed for less than 983 yards in a single season. Expect Elliott to climb up the charts and become more of a significant factor.

James Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars

Did anybody expect James Robinson to be in the top 10 in rushing at any point of this season? Well, don’t look now. Through three games, the rookie out of Illinois State has ran for 210 total yards. He recorded his first 100-yard performance of his career against the Titan in Week 2. Robinson ran for only 46 yards against the Miami Dolphins last Thursday. While a long shot to win it, don’t be surprised if he hangs around.

NEXT FOR HENRY?

Well, it won’t be the stingy Steeler defense. That game will be moved to a later date this season. If the Titans’ COVID-19 outbreak is quelled, the Buffalo Bills will be Henry’s next challenge as he attempts to become the first player since 2006-2007 to win back-to-back rushing titles.

So far this season, the Bills have a top-10 rushing defense. Henry and the offensive line will have their hands full with an athletic defensive line and young, game-breaking linebackers in Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds. In the Titans’ 14-7 loss to the Bills last season, Henry ran 20 times for 78 yards and one touchdown. The Bills recorded eight tackles for a loss.

Buffalo’s defense has given up 318 rushing yards in three games this season. Opposing running backs are averaging 4.6 yards per carry and roughly 106 yards per game. The unit has not given up a run longer than 15 yards this season. None of Henry’s yards this season have come easy. Of his league-leading 82 carries, his longest gain has just been 16 yards.