Derrick Henry was on his way to having one of the best seasons of his career last year, but after suffering a Jones fracture in Week 8 against the Indianapolis Colts, Henry’s season was derailed. The Tennessee Titans still finished in first place in the AFC which gave Henry a chance to return for the Titans playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Miraculously, Henry was able to return, rushing 20 times for 62 yards and a touchdown. The Titans ended up losing to the Bengals, but it was more proof that Henry isn’t built like the rest of us.
With all of that in mind, the 2020 Offensive Player of the Year is the odds-on favorite at +400 to win Comeback Player of the Year in 2022.
In the past three seasons, Henry has amassed 900 rushing attempts, leading the league in carries in 2019 and 2020. During that span he’s also amassed 4,504 rushing yards and 43 touchdowns. To put it simply, Henry’s been the engine that has made the Titans offense run in the past few years and he’ll be vital for that locomotive’s success in 2022.
There’s no question, when healthy, that Henry is arguably the best pound-for-pound running back in the league. It remains to be seen how heavily they rely on Henry in 2022, but with the Titans trading receiver A.J. Brown, the passing game has lost a step.
They drafted receiver Treyon Burks with the first-round pick that they received by trading Brown, but Burks will still be a rookie and it’s hard to rely on a rookie receiver if your name isn’t Ja’Marr Chase or Justin Jefferson. The Titan’s also traded for former Los Angeles Rams receiver Robert Woods, but he’s coming off a torn ACL, so it may take a week or two before he can get back into the swing of things.
The Effect on the Titans
The Titans could rely on other backs to start the season, but there’s a good chance that the Titans ramp up Henry’s workload if the Titans are fighting for a playoff spot. They have the seventh hardest schedule in 2022, but they play in the AFC South and it looks like their main competition will end up just being the Colts.
It could be tough for the Titans to grab first place in the AFC South with the Colts owning the 28th hardest schedule in the league, but anything is possible with Henry back on the field.
In the time that Henry missed last year, he said he gained a better appreciation for what it means to play on a football field.
Derrick Henry said he definitely feels different now than he did when he returned in January. Said having football taken away due to injury changed him in that he appreciates the game even more.
— Terry McCormick (@terrymc13) June 14, 2022
It’s possible that it takes a few weeks for Henry to get his legs back under him, but then again, we’re talking about a guy that goes by “King Henry”. Unless the Titans transform into a pass-heavy offense, Henry will get the majority of the carries out of the backfield, which will give him one of the best shots to win the Comeback Player of the Year Award.