NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Derrick Henry's rookie season with the Titans was a learning experience, from the time he walked in the door as the Heisman Trophy winner to his final carry.
"A lot of learning from good guys, good vets,'' Henry said on Sunday, after he ran for a season-high 65 yards and a touchdown in Tennessee's 24-17 win over the Texans. "Being on a team that's been down, but fought this year, fought hard with great players, great competitors. Fought to the end and finished strong."
Henry, a second-round draft pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, finished his rookie year with 490 yards and five touchdowns on 110 carries. While playing behind starter DeMarco Murray, who finished as the AFC's leading rusher with 1,287 yards, Henry said he learned plenty.
After Sunday's game, he acknowledged he watched the way Murray worked on the field and in the classroom. And he said he learned from it. The experience will help him moving forward, Henry said.
Henry also learned patience during a season when the Titans finished 9-7. Henry ran for 2,219 yards and 28 touchdowns on 395 carries last season at Alabama.
"I had probably about 250 less carries, so I feel a lot better than I did last year,'' Henry said with a smile after the game. "Learning from good guys, growing. It was a good development year for me."
Some of the veterans watched Henry work as well. They were impressed.
"'I think he handled himself well knowing we have DeMarco Murray,'' tight end Delanie Walker said of Henry. "For him to come in and sit down and bite his tongue and wait for his opportunity, it means a lot."
Murray, who managed just 21 yards on 11 carries on Sunday, said he liked Henry's approach during a season when he got double-digit carries just four times in 16 games.
"He has a bright future ahead of him,'' Murray said of Henry. "He comes in and does his job no matter if it's one play or 20 plays. I think for him, he is going to be a big part of this year next year and for years to come. We are excited to have him."
So, about that last carry.
At the end of a day when Henry carried the load – he scored on a two-yard touchdown run and he averaged 4.3 yards per carry, with a long of 14 – he failed to stay inbounds on a third-down run with 1:05 left. If he'd hit the ground, the Titans could've run the clock down to less than 20 seconds before Houston's final possession.
Henry allowed defenders to shove him out, which gave the Texans a final shot.
"I made a rookie mistake and didn't get out of bounds," said Henry, shaking his head. "I put us in a bad situation, and learned from it."
On this day, it was a forgivable offense.
The Titans won, on a day when Henry looked good.
"I'd like for him to (not) get out of bounds,'' Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. "I love everything about him, but that could have cost us."
The Tennessee Titans take on the Houston Texans in Week 17 action at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)