The Tennessee Titans went 6-3 after Derrick Henry was injured in their Week 8 game against the Indianapolis Colts. It was enough, even without their main star on offense, to clinch the top spot in the AFC.
Now though, Titans fans have been boosted by the news that Henry has come through his first practice with contact with his team and felt absolutely no problems with his injured foot.
Titans head coach Mike Vrabel has said he wants to see how Henry goes over the remaining practices this week before making a decision whether to activate the running back from injured reserve.
That however seems to be more likely than ever after a positive report on his fitness from the player himself.
Derrick Henry is counting the days until he’s back in uniform.
“I am ready to go out there and play.” 📰 » https://t.co/9LnI4PJ2fP
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) January 19, 2022
Initially, Titans medical experts feared that Henry’s season was done after the broken foot injury he sustained against the Colts, however, after a successful operation to insert a metal plate in his foot to help fuse the break together, there was talk of Henry being back either for the final week of the season, or the playoffs if the Titans made them.
Henry returned to training ahead of their final game of the season at Houston, but Vrabel decided against activating him for the game, which the Titans needed to win to secure the top seeding in the AFC.
A narrow win for the Titans not only grabbed them that top seed and home field advantage throughout the playoffs but perhaps more significantly, gave the team hit hardest by injuries in the NFL this season an extra week of rest.
That, of course included Henry, who essentially has had two extra weeks for his foot to heel after being kept out of the Houston game.
In his absence, D’Onta Foreman and Dontrell Hilliard have done a decent job together to offer the Titans at least some semblance of a running game and it is likely that against the Bengals, they may well be used alongside Henry to ease #22 back into the game.
The Bengals have the seventh best rush defense in the NFL, averaging just 102.5 yards per game. The Titans have the second best, averaging 84.6 yards.
Tellingly, in their last three games, that Titans average fell even further to 73.7, whereas the Bengals saw theirs climb markedly to 154.3. Only Jacksonville have conceded more yards over their last three games of the season.
If that happens in Tennessee on Saturday, then Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals offense are going to have to make the most of every opportunity they get as the Titans will likely try to dominate the clock.
And if the Bengals can stop the Titans rush attack, then they will have to deal with Ryan Tannehill and his two key receivers AJ Brown and Julio Jones, who will both be fit for this game, offering Titans fans a chance to see their four main attacking players in the same team, which has been a rarity this season.
The game begins on Saturday and is the first Divisional Playoff game at the weekend, and will be followed shortly thereafter by the Green Bay Packers hosting the San Francisco 49ers as the other number 1 seed in the playoffs gets their post-season under way.