Rookie RB Derrick Henry Impressive Catching Ball for Titans



NASHVILLE, Tenn. —** By now, everyone knows Derrick Henry can run the football.

It turns out the big guy can catch it pretty well, too.

Henry, last year's Heisman Trophy winner out of Alabama who was taken in the second-round by the Titans in the NFL Draft, has been impressive catching the football in ten days of organized team activities.

Henry's opportunities as a pass-catcher were few and far between in college.

"I love it,'' Henry said after Thursday's OTA. "I always considered myself good at it, and when you get opportunities, you have to make the most of them. I am willing to do it, so it's been fun. I am just trying to make plays and fly around."

Henry ran for 2,219 yards on 395 carries last season at Alabama, piling up 147.6 yards per game and 5.6 yards per carry. He racked up 3,591 yards and 42 touchdowns in three seasons. With numbers like those, coaches at Alabama probably figured there was little need to throw the ball to Henry very often.

In three college seasons, Henry caught just 17 passes for 285 yards and three touchdowns. He had just 11 catches for 91 yards last season with the Crimson Tide. Henry caught just one pass in 2013, and five passes in 2014.

"I definitely want to do something like that, to be a threat in the passing game and also the run game. I don't want to be just one-dimensional,'' Henry said. "I want to catch the ball out of the backfield. … (At Alabama) I never questioned the coaches. I just (did) what I was told and I just went out there and made plays whether it was me running or catching.

"They didn't ask me to do much of that, but they are putting a big emphasis around here on catching the ball out of the backfield and it's been fun. So I am glad they do that here. I definitely want to catch the ball and be a big target for the quarterbacks."

Henry caught one pass after another in the open field during Thursday's practice. He considers himself a good route-runner, but acknowledges he is getting better each day.

Coach Mike Mularkey said Henry has been impressive in the 1-on-1 periods, and said he's a good route runner.

"He's beaten guys that were cover guys,'' Mularkey said. "So I have been very impressed with him.

"I am not sure why they did or didn't do it (at Alabama). They were pretty happy with just handing it to him to get the production. But he certainly has some good hands. … And he is a big body to get the ball to."

Cornerback Jason McCourty, for one, knows the challenge the 6-foot-3, 247-pound Henry presents out of the backfield. Veteran running back DeMarco Murray has shown off his versatility during OTAs as well.

"He has been impressive, man,'' McCourty said of Henry.  "He has a little bit more speed than I would have thought he had, and he does catch the ball out of the backfield. You don't see many big backs that do that really well. It's mostly smaller, quicker guys. But he has done a really good job.

"You don't want to see the receiver crack the safety and have to have that one-on-one tackle with (Henry) coming downhill. A guy that size you would rather gang-tackle than get that one-on-one tackle against him."

The Titans select Alabama RB Derrick Henry in the second round (45th overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft. (AP Photos)

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