Now that Derrick Henry is the Tennessee Titans starting running back for the playoffs and the foreseeable future, the club hopes that the Henry that rushed for 156 yards against Kansas City is close to the norm than the version that managed just 51 yards against Jacksonville.
This week against the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, the Titans will need Henry and the run game to be strong and reliable if they are to have any chance of pulling an upset in the AFC Divisional Playoffs.
Henry was low key, but confident when asked about his plans for this week.
“I’m just trying to play better very week. I get another chance to play against a great team in a good environment. I’m just making sure I’m doing all the right things this week,” Henry said Thursday.
Henry was asked if the version he showed of himself in Kansas City is now the mentality he has to take all the time.
“I’m just going out there making plays,” Henry said. “It ain’t no mentality really or anything like that. It’s just about me going out there and doing my job and doing it to the best of my ability.”
While the Titans are hopeful that Henry’s confidence carries over against the Patriots, offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie joked that he had no recollection of the Jacksonville edition of Henry.
“I don’t know the Jacksonville version. That’s easy. I’ve forgotten the Jacksonville version,” Robiskie said.
Titans head coach Mike Mularkey, however, said the Jacksonville game proved to be a good learning situation for Henry to see what being an every-down back in the NFL is like. He also learned that you can’t always just bounce everything outside and wait for a hole to develop, like he could in college.
“I think he’s learned a lot in that Jacksonville game with the number of carries he had. He saw some of the things that he missed by trying to bounce some things,” Mularkey said. “He’s had a lot of success bouncing some runs, but at some point you’ve got to hit some of these holes that are there, and they’re not big all the time. I think he saw that, and obviously he’s a quick, fast learner.”
Henry is hopeful that he and the Titans offense can take the next step this week, both running the ball and in their playoff run.
“I’m just trying to be focused this week to be better than I was last week,” he said.
To which Robiskie added that last week’s success has to be a boost for the second-year back’s confidence.
“Any time you have success, no matter how confident you are, it goes up a little bit. He had a good game, did some good things, and I think he’s in a good place,” Robiskie said.