"Coach Henry" Doing Everything He Can to Help Titans

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NASHVILLE – Derrick Henry has been called a lot of things during his playing career, starting simply with "King."

Henry also earned "Heisman Trophy winner" while at the University of Alabama, and "Offensive Player of the Year" with the Titans.

Now, the Titans running back has earned another title.

"We've started calling him 'Coach Henry'," Titans running backs coach Tony Dews said of Henry.

Henry, who has won back-to-back NFL rushing titles, has been limited with his work in practices so far in training camp.

It's been by design, part of head coach Mike Vrabel and the training staff's plan, and on Monday Henry said he's OK with it.

With a reduced workload, Henry has spent plenty of time working on his conditioning. He's also stayed involved in practices by acting as, well, a coach.

"He's back there with a script now, and he's calling out all the plays and he's helping me substitute the guys in," Dews said of Henry. "So that keeps him involved in practices. And it is also my little sneaky way to help him continue to grow in the offense. Because now he is calling out full formations. So, my thought is maybe he is continuing to gain knowledge and understanding by hearing how the quarterback calls things and hearing how (offensive coordinator) Todd Downing is calling things.

"It keeps him involved and it keeps him watching, and seeing what is happening and he can coach those guys when he comes off the field as well."

Henry, heading into his sixth NFL season, ran for 2,027 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2020. Henry's 2,027 rushing yards gave him the fifth-highest total in NFL history behind Eric Dickerson's 2,105 (1984), Adrian Peterson's 2,097 (2012), Jamal Lewis' 2,066 (2003) and Barry Sanders' 2,053 (1997). Henry broke Chris Johnson's franchise mark of 2,006 rushing yards in 2009

Henry was named the 2020 NFL Offensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press, and he was also named first-team All-Pro by the Associated Press after becoming just the eighth player in league annals to rush for at least 2,000 yards in a season.

Henry said on Monday he's willing to help any way he can in practices, even when he's not carrying the football.

Call it coaching, call it being a cheerleader, it doesn't matter to Henry.

"I am just holding the script, calling out plays, trying to be helpful," Henry said. "Just letting guys know when their rep is up, and just trying to encourage them to go out there and do their best. … Just trying to help any way I can, and trying to be involved in practice as much as I can as well."

As for the reduced workload, Henry said he's doing what the coaching staff and training staff want him to do.

Dews, for one, believes Henry's reduced workload in previous camps helped the running back during the latter part of the past two seasons.

"I'm just working hard as much as I can when I am out there, and when I am not practicing just taking mental reps," he said. "And when I am conditioning with the strength and conditioning coach, just working hard to keep my body in shape. And when I get done with that, coming back in, watching from the sideline, helping the guys, trying to do the best I can to help them with their reps and also taking mental reps as well."

The Titans open the preseason on Friday night in Atlanta against the Falcons.

Right now, Henry isn't sure if, or how much, he'll play.

"I am ready for whatever, really," Henry said. "It is training camp, you have to come out and work, and do your job each and every day. Whatever I have to do I am willing to do, but right now I am focused on what I can do right now."

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