NASHVILLE — Derrick Henry spent 81 days on injured reserve.
The end came Friday when the Tennessee Titans officially returned him to their active roster, a day before their divisional playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Nissan Stadium. This followed three weeks of training sessions, which he negotiated without incident, and a week of playoff games, which the Titans missed due to their status as the AFC’s No. 1 team.
Medical staff are confident that they have had enough time for Henry to recover from surgery to fix a broken foot.
The question is whether it took him too long to immediately regain his role as the centerpiece of the Tennessee attack.
“I think anyone who hasn’t played in two months would feel pretty good about their body and where they are,” Henry said this week. “…It was the first time I got injured during the season and had to miss the rest of the season. It was definitely different. A bit of adversity, but glad I got through it.
Much attention will be paid to the number of litters he gets on Saturday. Some think Henry will have a limit to ensure there is no risk of him overdoing it too soon. Others think the philosophy will be that if he’s healthy enough to go out there, he’s healthy enough to stay there for as many snaps as necessary.
For now, all that is certain is that Henry has put up huge numbers over the past few seasons. Here’s a look at some as an indication of what his return means for the Titans:
2 – rushes for more than 40 yards during the 2021 regular season. Only Indianapolis’ Jonathan Taylor had more (five). Five others also had two. Henry’s 76-yard touchdown against Buffalo was the third-longest in the NFL this season. Taylor had two that covered more ground.
3 – games with three or more rushing touchdowns. Henry did it in five weeks with three touchdowns apiece against Seattle (Week 20), Jacksonville (Week 5) and Buffalo (Week 6). There were only four other players who had at least three rushing touchdowns, and none did so more than once.
10 – players in franchise history who have thrown a touchdown pass in the playoffs. Henry is one of them – and the only running back. His 3-yard throw to wide receiver Corey Davis early in the third quarter gave the Titans a 21-6 lead over the Baltimore Ravens in a 2019 Divisional Playoff game, which Tennessee ultimately won 28-12.
11 – 200-yard rushing games in the NFL since the start of the 2018 season. Henry has five (five of the first eight, to be exact). He’s the only one in that span with at least 200 rushing yards and four touchdowns in the same game (vs. Jacksonville, Dec. 6, 2018).
17 – times in the last 20 seasons a player has rushed for more than 150 yards in the playoffs. Henry has done it three times and has two of the four best performances. His 195 rushing yards against Baltimore two years ago ranks third, one spot ahead of the 182 he had a week earlier against New England. He also had 156 in his first playoff game, a wildcard win at Kansas City after the 2017 regular season.
34 – rushing attempts in the 2019 wild card win over New England. That’s the most NFL players in the playoffs in the past 15 years. Six times during this period, a defender had 30 or more rushes in a game. Henry has two, the other being a 30-carry performance against Baltimore the week after his eventful day against the Patriots.
467 – total yards in all three 2019 playoff games. This is the second-highest total for a single player in the Titans era (since 1999). The only one with more was Eddie George, who had 521 in Tennessee’s run to Super Bowl XXXIV. George played in four games, as did third-place Leonard Fournette (448 for Tampa Bay last season), while Henry scored in just three games.
670 – rushing yards in six career playoff games. This has led the league since the start of the 2017 playoffs, when Henry made his NFL playoff debut. Only two other players, Leonard Fournette (542 yards) and Sony Michel (455 yards), have accumulated up to 400 rushing yards in the postseason over the same period.
937 – yards rushing by Henry in his eight games this season. He finished ninth in the NFL in that regard and was one of eight players with at least 10 rushing touchdowns. His 219 ground attempts ranked 11th.
5,563 rushing yards since the start of the 2018 season. That’s the most of any NFL player in the last three years and an average of 101.1 yards per game. Henry’s 55 rushing touchdowns over the past three years also lead the league. Cleveland’s Nick Chubb is second in yards at 4,816, Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook is second at 39 and Indianapolis’ Jonathan Taylor is second in yards per game at 93.1.