Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry is in a very strange place in his NFL career. After winning the Heisman Trophy at Alabama in 2015 (2,219 yards, 11 touchdowns), the Titans drafted him in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft. However, Henry learned quickly that he would not be the lead running back for the Titans when Tennessee signed 2014 NFL rushing leader DeMarco Murray to join the team. However, Henry didn’t let it get him down and is carving out his place in the NFL.

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The 2016 Titans running attack

In 2015, the Tennessee Titans were horrible running the ball. Antonio Andrews led the team with 520 yards, former second round draft pick Bishop Sankey finished with 193 rushing yards and lost his chance to be an NFL starter, and Marcus Mariota ran for 252 yards, more than anyone but Andrews. In 2016, the Titans cleaned house and dumped everyone but Andrews. However, Andrews finished with only two carries for 15 yards.

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The reason for the change – and the improvement – was the arrival of former rushing leader DeMarco Murray and Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry. By the end of the season, DeMarco ran for 1,287 yards and nine touchdowns and Henry added 490 yards and five touchdowns. Combined, the two running backs ran for 292 yards more than the entire Titans’ team ran for in 2015. Add in Marcus Mariota’s 349 yards and two touchdowns, and the three players combined for 2,126 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns.

Derrick Henry in 2017

The Tennessee Titans should expect even more from Derrick Henry in 2017. DeMarco Murray played horribly in 2015 on a very bad Philadelphia Eagles team but rebounded in 2016 to rank as the No. 3 running back in the NFL, behind only Ezekiel Elliott and Jordan Howard. Murray isn’t looking like he is slowing down but he is getting older so the Titans might want to rest him a little more in 2017.

That means more action for Henry, who actually averaged 4.5 yards-per-carry compared to Murray’s 4.4 yards-per-carry.

Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie said that fans need to remember that Derrick Henry is a very special player, pointing out his Heisman Trophy. He mentioned that Henry is a big guy who can make jump cuts fluidly and see holes. He said that Derrick has looked phenomenal this summer and that makes it sound like the Titans will start to give him more carries as he starts his second season.

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DeMarco Murray is still the lead back but Henry said he is humble and patient and will just work like he is the starter so he will remain ready.

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