NASHVILLE – Since his playing days in high school, running back Derrick Henry has always been a workhorse.
While piling up 12,124 yards in four years at Yulee (Fla.) High, Henry took handoffs over and over and over and over and over again.
"I think once or twice it got up in the 50s (on carries in a game)," Henry said on Thursday. "It's been a lot, especially in high school. I carried (the ball) a pretty good bit in college as well."
Indeed. In his final season at the University of Alabama, Henry had 395 rushing attempts.
So, you won't ever hear Henry complaining about his workload, and that includes after a 31-carry performance in the season opener at Denver. Henry racked up 114 rushing yards on those attempts in a 16-14 win. His 31 attempts made up the third-highest total of his career in the regular season.
"We felt like that's where Derrick was at physically, condition-wise," Titans coach Mike Vrabel said of Henry's workload against the Broncos. "That (number) may change each and every week but Derrick is not going to be on any pitch count. He gets himself in great condition and he understands the responsibility he has to the team to be able to sometimes carry it as many times as he did on Monday night. Every game is different."
Henry smiles when questions about his workload come up, even if he is on pace to record 496 carries in 16 games.
Henry's performance against Denver was the 14th 100-yard rushing game (regular season and playoffs) of his career. The Titans are now 14-0 all-time in games when Henry rushes for at least 100 yards.
"Whenever I get the opportunities, I try to take advantage of them," said Henry, who carried the ball 386 times a year ago, including playoffs. "All the training I do, the working out, going through practice, all those things I think prepare you for moments like that, to be able to carry the load in games like that, physical games against a good defense. "
The 6-foot-3, 247-pound back also smiles when he knows the opposing defense is getting tired.
"I can just tell when we're getting a lot of momentum in the running game, and I just have to continue to run hard," he said. "If I look over when I'm in the huddle I can see them breathing hard."
Against the Broncos, Henry became the third player in franchise history to record 10 consecutive regular season games with at least 80 scrimmage yards. He had 131 scrimmage yards against the Broncos—116 rushing and 15 receiving—to join Chris Johnson (12 games from 2009 to 2010), Eddie George (10 games in 1998) and Billy Cannon (10 games from 1961 to 1962) as the only franchise players to accomplish the feat. The only active NFL streak better than Henry's is owned by Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, who is currently riding an 11-game stretch of 80-yard scrimmage games after Week 1.
Dating back to Nov. 10, 2019, he has eight 100-yard rushing games in his 10 most recent games, including six 100-yard efforts in the regular season and two in the postseason.
Heading into Sunday's game against the Jaguars, there's reason to believe Henry's success will continue.
A second-round pick of the Titans in the 2016 NFL Draft, Henry is set to play his 13th divisional game since taking over the full-time starting role at the beginning of the 2018 campaign.
In that time period, Henry has produced an NFL-high 1,251 rushing yards against the AFC South, also leading the league with an average of 104.3 rushing yards per contest against divisional foes. His totals during that time include 498 rushing yards against Jacksonville, 383 against Houston and 370 against Indianapolis.
Henry's 12 rushing touchdowns in divisional battles since 2018 rank second behind the 15 scored by current Atlanta Falcon and former Los Angeles Ram Todd Gurley.
"(The Jaguars) are young, very fast and physical," Henry said. "They bring a lot of energy. They have some new guys over there that play with high energy. They are coming off a great win against the Colts. So we definitely have to be ready for those guys and make sure we prepare the right way."