Derrick Henry has led the league in rushing the past two seasons. He also has led the NFL in rushing attempts in back-to-back years.
Henry had 303 carries for 1,540 yards in 2019 and 378 carries for 2,027 yards in 2020. The Titans running back had a league-leading 397 total touches in 2020.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel said Thursday what he said during the season: There’s a fine line in managing Henry’s workload.
“It’s no secret that Derrick is a large part of what we are, and who we are as a football team,” Vrabel said in a live event with season-ticket holders, via Jim Wyatt of the team website. “We try to be smart as we prepare. Nobody prepares for the rigors of the season more than Derrick. I’m not going to say that Derrick is the hardest working player in football; I wouldn’t do that to the players around this league. But I can’t imagine that any of them work harder than he does, and he understands that, and the toll that he is going to take.”
Henry, 27, has a chance to become the first back in NFL history to have back-to-back 2,000-yard rushing seasons, and he will have an extra game to get it done with the league going to a 17-game season. Henry averaged 126.7 rushing yards per game in 16 games last season.
Eric Dickerson holds the NFL single-season record with 2,105 rushing yards in 1984.
Vrabel joked with a season-ticket holder who wants another 2,000-yard season for Henry but expressed concern for Henry’s health.
“You can’t have it both ways,” Vrabel said with a smile. “You can’t want 2,000 yards, and then have him standing next to me.
“We’ll always try to do what is best for the team, and what is best for Derrick. Just be smart and make sure he is communicating with us and how he feels, and we’re evaluating his performance.”