Feb 3, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year trophy and the NFL Honors trophy during media availabilities during the NFL Honors show at Cyrus Northrop Memorial Auditorium at the University of Minnesota. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Dak Prescott, Derrick Henry headline Walter Payton award nominees

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry were among the 32 players announced Tuesday as nominees for the 2021 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award.

Each team selects a player who has had a significant impact on the community through his philanthropy or other efforts. The award, to be presented during Super Bowl LVI week in February, was established in 1970 and named after the late Chicago Bears running back in 1999.

The winner will receive a $250,000 donation to the charity of his choice, with the 31 other nominees receiving a charitable donation of up to $40,000.

Last year’s winner was Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

The 2021 nominees:

Arizona Cardinals: Kelvin Beachum
Atlanta Falcons: Mike Davis
Baltimore Ravens: Bradley Bozeman
Buffalo Bills: Harrison Phillips
Carolina Panthers: D.J. Moore
Chicago Bears: Jimmy Graham
Cincinnati Bengals: Sam Hubbard
Cleveland Browns: Denzel Ward
Dallas Cowboys: Dak Prescott
Denver Broncos: Justin Simmons
Detroit Lions: Jason Cabinda
Green Bay Packers: Aaron Jones
Houston Texans: Justin Reid
Indianapolis Colts: Kenny Moore II
Jacksonville Jaguars: Myles Jack
Kanas City Chiefs: Tyrann Mathieu
Las Vegas Raiders: Darren Waller
Los Angeles Chargers: Corey Linsley
Los Angeles Rams: Andrew Whitworth
Miami Dolphins: Jerome Baker
Minnesota Vikings: Anthony Barr
New England Patriots: Lawrence Guy
New Orleans Saints: Cameron Jordan
New York Giants: Logan Ryan
New York Jets: Quinnen Williams
Philadelphia Eagles: Jason Kelce
Pittsburgh Steelers: Cameron Heyward
San Francisco 49ers: Arik Armstead
Seattle Seahawks: Tyler Lockett
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Evans
Tennessee Titans: Derrick Henry
Washington Football Team: Jonathan Allen

–Field Level Media

Oct 31, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) runs the ball  in the second half against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Titans RB Derrick Henry (broken foot) could be done for season

NFL leading rusher Derrick Henry broke the fifth metatarsal in his foot and will undergo an MRI exam to determine whether the Tennessee Titans must move forward without him this season, per multiple reports.

FOX Sports reported Henry would have tests Monday that will determine whether surgery is needed or recovery is possible without an operation. If he requires surgery, Henry would likely miss 8-12 weeks.

“We’ll see where he’s at and evaluate,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said Sunday, when the team didn’t make Henry available postgame due to treatment.

Non-surgical healing in a protective boot is possible depending on the displacement of the broken bone.

Henry leads the NFL in carries (219), rushing yards (937) and rushing touchdowns (10).

He injured his foot in the first quarter at Indianapolis and attempted to play through the pain, finishing the game with 29 carries for 68 yards.

Henry had 139 carries in the team’s five games in October, an excessive workload by comparison in the pass-heavy NFL.

The Titans have won four consecutive games. Tennessee outlasted the Colts in overtime to improve to 6-2 and lead the AFC South division entering Week 9. Tennessee plays at Los Angeles and the 7-1 Rams this week.

–Field Level Media

Aug 20, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) drops back to pass during the first half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Titans defense has something to prove vs. Kyler Murray, Cardinals

If the Tennessee Titans are to become the team they aspire to be, then their defense has to make dramatic improvements from last year.

Their first chance to show they are a better team on defense occurs Sunday when they open the season by hosting the Arizona Cardinals and explosive quarterback Kyler Murray in Nashville.

“You have a lot of youth on the field, guys who are hungry and want to make an impact early on,” Tennessee linebacker Rashaan Evans said. “And then you have older guys who have been in the game and made big plays. Both of those dynamics can make you very dangerous.”

For most of 2020, the Titans’ defense was dangerous only to the health of their fans. They ranked 29th in passing yards allowed per game at 277.4, 28th in total yards allowed per game with 398.3 and 24th in points per game at 27.4.

A major reason for that was their terrible defense on third down. Opponents converted a whopping 51.9 percent on the money down, the worst in the NFL. And that required a late defensive stand to get down to that level; opponents were above 60 percent halfway through the season.

Much has been made of Tennessee’s bold trade for Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones, but the Titans spent a lot of money to repair their defense. They gave linebacker Bud Dupree $82 million to leave Pittsburgh and shore up a putrid pass rush, then shelled out $21.5 million on defensive end Denico Autry and another $15 million on veteran cornerback Janoris Jenkins.

As good as Tennessee’s offense should be, it will be the play of its defense that determines whether they can live out their Super Bowl dreams. The first challenge is Murray, who threw for 3,971 yards and rushed for 819 last year, accounting for 37 touchdowns and nearly leading Arizona to the playoffs in his second season.

“He is a dangerous and dynamic athlete,” Titans safety Kevin Byard said of Murray. “Not only can he run, but he can make all the throws as well. He is just a dynamic player, a guy we are going to have to contain for sure.”

Meanwhile, Murray and the Cardinals hope to show they are playoff material. They could have reached the postseason last year with a Week 17 win at the Los Angeles Rams, but Murray left with a first quarter injury and the offense fizzled in an 18-7 defeat.

One way for Arizona to do that is to make a statement on defense. The addition of J.J. Watt from the Houston Texans should immediately improve the pass rush, but it will take more than Watt to contain Tennessee’s potent running game.

The presence of Jones and fellow receiver A.J. Brown aside, Derrick Henry is the engine of the Titans offense. Henry owns consecutive NFL rushing titles for a reason. The Titans are committed to the running game, and Henry usually gets better as a game goes along.

Young Cardinals defensive linemen such as like Zach Allen, Michael Dogbe, Rashard Lawrence and Leki Fotu have no choice but to show that they can be solid pros against Tennessee.

“We are tired of being called young guys, with young-guy mistakes,” Allen said. “This is our time now.”

Arizona owns a 7-4 lead in the all-time series, including a 12-7 victory in the teams’ last meeting in December 2017.

–Field Level Media

Jan 16, 2021; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) against the Los Angeles Rams during the NFC Divisional Round at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Donald, Derrick Henry win PFWA awards

Aaron Rodgers was named Most Valuable Player and Aaron Donald and Derrick Henry were tabbed as the defensive and offensive players of the year by the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) on Wednesday.

Rodgers won MVP honors for the third time (2011, 2014) after leading the Green Bay Packers to the No. 1 NFC playoff seed and throwing a career-high 48 touchdown passes.

Donald won Defensive Player of the Year for the second time in three seasons (2018) after another dominating season for the Los Angeles Rams, the NFL’s No. 1-ranked defense in 2020. He tied for second in the league with 13.5 sacks and forced four fumbles.

Henry led the league in rushing with 2,027 yards and added 17 touchdowns for the Tennessee Titans, earning Offensive Player of the Year. He’s the first Titans player to ever win the award and the first running back since 2017 (Todd Gurley).

The PFWA on Tuesday tabbed Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert and Washington defensive end Chase Young as the offensive and defensive rookies of the year.

Young led all NFL rookies in sacks with 7.5 and Herbert set NFL rookie records for touchdown passes (31) and total touchdowns (36).

–Field Level Media

Oct 13, 2020; Nashville, Tennessee, USA;  Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) throws Buffalo Bills cornerback Josh Norman (29) to the side from a stiff arm during the first half at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

Titans’ Henry drops vicious stiff arm on Bills’ Norman

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry continued to be the talk of Twitter on Wednesday morning following his takedown of Buffalo Bills cornerback Josh Norman on Tuesday night.

Henry, who tips the scales at 6-foot-3, 247 pounds, bounced to the left and sent Norman flying like a rag doll following a vicious stiff-arm play during the second quarter of the Titans’ 42-16 victory in Nashville, Tenn. The play only gained four yards — and it was nullified by offsetting penalties to both teams — however social media had a field day at Norman’s expense.

“Don’t test the King,” the Titans wrote on Twitter.

“If I ever get stiff arm that bad, I’m going to the locker room!,” his Titans teammate, defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons, added.

Henry was quick with a joke about the sequence shortly after the Titans improved to 4-0 on the season.

“I have been doing too many curls,” the 26-year-old Henry said. “I have to lay off the arms.”

While Henry enjoyed the last laugh, many others were left just scratching their head in bewilderment.

“That was unbelievable just to see the way he tossed that guy,” Tennessee quarterback Ryan Tannehill said of his initial reaction, via SI.com. “Derrick is a special player. We’ve seen the stiff arm from him. I saw it all last year. I’ve seen it before I got here, highlights of it. Obviously, he’s strong, physically a tough runner. That was probably one of the meanest stiff arms I’ve ever seen, no doubt.”

Henry rushed for two touchdowns.

–Field Level Media