Oct 15, 2023; London, United Kingdom; Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) carries the ball against Baltimore Ravens linebacker Tavius Robinson (95) in the second half during an NFL International Series game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

New Ravens RB Derrick Henry hungry to prove his worth

Derrick Henry admitted he’s been angling to play in Baltimore longer than a few days, so he described himself as thankful the Ravens signed him to a two-year deal in free agency this week.

“It’s going to be fun this year, for sure,” Henry said Thursday after making his contract official.

The Tennessee Titans opted to change directions at running back, signing Dallas Cowboys free agent Tony Pollard to fill Henry’s spot under new coach Brian Callahan.

But the Ravens have been “chasing Derrick Henry for awhile,” according to general manager Eric DeCosta. Even Henry thought he was headed to Baltimore in the middle of last season.

“We tried to trade for Derrick before the (2023) trade deadline. We thought there was a reasonable chance,” DeCosta said. “When you evaluate the tape, watch the player, see the history of the player … it made all the sense in the world for us.”

Henry is the NFL’s active leading rusher with 9,502 yards and has six consecutive seasons with at least 10 rushing touchdowns.

This season, the 30-year-old will slot in alongside quarterback Lamar Jackson for the team that led the NFL in rushing in 2023.

Henry said “let them keep talking” when asked about playing the position at his age, generally considered the point of imminent decline for NFL running backs.

“Tell them to keep watching,” Henry said.

–Field Level Media

Dec 3, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) is tackled by Indianapolis Colts linebacker Zaire Franklin (44) during the second half at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Titans RB Derrick Henry shakes concussion concern, set for MNF

Derrick Henry never experienced concussion symptoms and was ready to return to the field last Sunday when Titans medical staff held him out in the second half of a loss to the Colts.

Henry plans to barrel straight ahead Monday night when Tennessee visits the Miami Dolphins.

“I guess (trainers and doctors) saw something that they felt like I couldn’t return,” Henry said of his perspective on the head injury analysis by the team last week. “I felt fine. Just took a helmet-to-helmet hit and they saw enough where I couldn’t go back in. I wanted to go back in — it was hard to watch — but I have to respect their decision.

“I can’t fight it — it’s their decision, it’s their call. It sucks, but you have to respect it. I wanted to go out there and continue to play and help us win, but they felt different. … I think the league is trying to be cautious with head injuries, which I respect. It’s all about player safety.”

Henry had 102 rushing yards and two touchdowns when he landed facemask first following a hard hit in the fourth quarter from Colts linebacker Zaire Franklin. Trainers wanted to evaluate Henry for a concussion and ushered him to the locker room under Nissan Stadium before ruling him out for the rest of the game.

Head coach Mike Vrabel said he understood the approach and even went on the field himself in reaction to the force of the contact and the way Henry went to the ground. But Vrabel clarified on Monday that Henry was never entered into concussion protocol because he was not diagnosed with a concussion.

Henry said Thursday he still has no symptoms of a head injury.

“I feel good,” Henry said. “I just got hit in the head, got my bell rung a little bit. You just get back up and shake it off.”

He has 841 rushing yards and eight touchdowns in 12 games this season.

–Field Level Media

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) leaps for a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts during the second quarter at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023.

Titans RB Derrick Henry ‘zero symptoms,’ not in concussion protocol

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry is not in concussion protocol, head coach Mike Vrabel clarified Monday, refuting an earlier report.

Henry left Sunday’s 31-28 overtime loss to the Indianapolis Colts in the fourth quarter and did not return.

“He was checked and they deemed him not able to return. But doing great, zero symptoms. Worked out this morning,” Vrabel said Monday.

The Titans (4-8) return to action next Monday night against the host Miami Dolphins (9-3).

Henry, 29, rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns before exiting Sunday’s setback against the Colts. Vrabel said he and trainers went to Henry’s side because “of the way he got up,” on Sunday.

“We will monitor how he’s feeling, any symptoms that may come up just like we would any player,” Vrabel said.

The two-time NFL rushing king has rushed for 841 yards and eight touchdowns in 12 games this season.

–Field Level Media

Jan 21, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) looks for room to run against the Philadelphia Eagles during an NFC divisional round game at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Chubb on RB pay: ‘There’s really nothing we can do’

A group of top NFL running backs met via Zoom to discuss the salaries being paid at the position, and Cleveland Browns star Nick Chubb had a sobering message for his fellow running backs.

“Right now, there’s really nothing we can do,” Chubb told ESPN on Sunday.

Chubb confirmed to the outlet that he was among the players to take part in the videoconference on Saturday, which Pro Football Talk reported was the brainchild of Austin Ekeler of the Los Angeles Chargers. Chubb said Christian McCaffrey, Derrick Henry and Saquon Barkley were among the running backs who joined in.

The meeting came on the heels of Barkley (New York Giants), Josh Jacobs (Las Vegas Raiders) and Tony Pollard (Dallas Cowboys) all being unable to reach multi-year contracts ahead of the deadline for franchise-tagged players.

ESPN said the running backs brainstormed ideas but did not come up with any plans to address ways to boost their pay.

“We’re kind of handcuffed with the situation. We’re the only position that our production hurts us the most,” Chubb said, per ESPN. “If we go out there and run 2,000 yards with so many carries, the next year they’re going to say, you’re probably worn down. It’s tough. … It hurts us at the end of the day.”

Barkley and Jacobs both were franchise tagged by their teams but have not signed their franchise tenders, worth $10.09 million for the 2023 season. Pollard signed his tag and is expected to report to training camp. Barkley and Jacobs are not, per ESPN.

The average salary for an NFL running back is $1.76 million, which is about $1 million less than the average for a player on offense, according to Spotrac. The average salary for a left tackle is $8.95 million, by contrast.

McCaffrey is playing on a four-year, $64 million contract extension signed with the Carolina Panthers — the highest annual average pay at the position.

“This is Criminal,” McCaffrey tweeted about the contract situations facing Barkley, Jacobs and Pollard. “Three of the best PLAYERS in the entire league, regardless of position.”

Chubb agreed.

“We’re definitely in a tough situation, running backs as a whole,” he said. “Saquon’s a great player and you can ask anyone around the league or even on the Giants how much he means to that team. So it’s hard seeing him not get what he deserves.”

–Field Level Media

Jun 13, 2023; Costa Mesa, CA, USA; Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (30) during minicamp at the Hoag Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Top RBs plan Zoom call to discuss depressed market

Los Angeles Chargers star running back Austin Ekeler has organized a online video call on Saturday night with several of his peers to discuss the depressed market at their position, Pro Football Talk reported.

Per the report, all of the high-profile running backs have been invited to the conversation on the Zoom platform. The NFL Players Association also will take part in some capacity.

The reported call comes on the heels of star running backs Saquon Barkley (New York Giants), Josh Jacobs (Las Vegas Raiders) and Tony Pollard (Dallas Cowboys) all unable to reach multi-year contracts ahead of the deadline for franchise-tagged players.

That brought about very vocal responses over social media from fellow running backs Jonathan Taylor (Indianapolis Colts), Derrick Henry (Tennessee Titans), Christian McCaffrey (San Francisco 49ers) and Najee Harris (Pittsburgh Steelers), among others.

Ekeler, himself, also was unable to receive a long-term contract and is heading into the final season of a four-year, $24.5-million deal with the Chargers.

–Field Level Media

Nov 28, 2022; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (28) dives into the end zone for a touchdown during the second half against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Scheer-USA TODAY Sports

Running backs express outrage at lack of contract action

Jonathan Taylor and Derrick Henry weren’t shy about voicing their displeasure after fellow running backs Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs and Tony Pollard were unable to reach multi-year contracts ahead of the deadline for franchise-tagged players.

Barkley, Jacobs and Pollard are in line to play under the $10.091 million tag this season, provided the first two sign the tender.

While Barkley tweeted “It is what it is” on Monday, Taylor had a much longer response in regard to the situation surrounding the New York Giants running back.

“1. If you’re good enough, they’ll find you. 2. If you work hard enough, you’ll succeed,” the Colts running back wrote on Twitter. “…If you succeed … 3. You boost the Organization …and then… Doesn’t matter, you’re a RB.”

Henry, a two-time rushing champion for the Tennessee Titans, took an even strong stance.

“At this point, just take the RB position out the game then,” he tweeted. “The ones that want to be great & work as hard as they can to give their all to an organization, just seems like it don’t even matter. I’m with every RB that’s fighting to get what they deserve.”

San Francisco 49ers star Christian McCaffrey, who is the NFL’s highest-paid running back at $16 million per season, labeled the situation as “criminal.”

Pittsburgh Steelers standout Najee Harris said in part that the “notion that we deserve less is a joke.”

Barkley, 26, was the second overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft after a dynamic career at Penn State. He posted a career-high 1,312 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in 16 games (all starts) last season while playing on the fifth-year option of his rookie deal.

The Giants’ current regime of general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll did not draft Barkley, but he appeared to be part of their long-term plans. Reports indicated that the sides were negotiating a long-term deal up until the deadline.

The Las Vegas Raiders did not pick up the fifth-year option on Jacobs’ rookie contract a year ago.

Jacobs, 25, responded by putting up 1,653 rushing yards on 340 touches (4.9 per attempt) and 12 touchdowns while starting all 17 games. He added 400 receiving yards in order to lead the league with 2,053 total yards from scrimmage. He was a first-team All-Pro and received his second Pro Bowl nod.

The Dallas Cowboys’ running game will go through Pollard, who is taking over RB1 from the released Ezekiel Elliott. Pollard took part in offseason activities as he recovered from ankle surgery, and he is expected to be ready to go when training camp opens July 26.

Pollard, 26, was selected to his first Pro Bowl after last season, in which he ran for a career-high 1,007 yards. He added 39 receptions for 371 yards, and he scored a combined 12 touchdowns in 16 games (four starts).

–Field Level Media

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) looks for a receiver against the Indianapolis Colts during the second quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn.

Nfl Indianapolis Colts At Tennessee Titans

Titans QB Ryan Tannehill (ankle) is game-day decision vs. Chiefs

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill is listed as questionable on the Friday injury report with a right ankle injury but coach Mike Vrabel labeled him a game-time decision for Sunday night’s showdown with the host Kansas City Chiefs.

Tannehill missed the previous game against the Houston Texas due to the ankle as well as an illness and was a limited practice participant on Friday after sitting out Thursday’s workout.

Vrabel referred to Tannehill’s situation as day to day and said he wouldn’t be surprised if a decision doesn’t come until Sunday.

“I think so,” Vrabel said. “We’ll keep you updated.”

If Tannehill can’t play, third-round draft pick Malik Willis will make his second straight start. Willis completed 6 of 10 passes for 55 yards and one interception in the 17-10 win against Houston.

“It’s going to be a great environment,” Willis said. “They’re going to have 80,000 people yelling at us, but that’s cool. I mean, that’s what you play for. They have a really good defense and we just have to go out there and try to and execute the game plan.”

Star running back Derrick Henry is good to go after being a full practice participant on Friday. He missed Thursday’s session due to a sore foot.

“My foot is fine — there is nothing to panic about,” Henry said. “There’s nothing wrong with my foot — right or left. My foot is fine.”

Henry rushed for 219 yards and two touchdowns in the road win over the Texans. The 200-yard outing was the sixth of his career, tying the NFL record shared by O.J. Simpson and Adrian Peterson.

Henry has topped 100 rushing yards in four straight games and ranks third in the NFL with 755. He has scored seven touchdowns.

Safety Amani Hooker (shoulder) and fullback Tory Carter (neck) will miss Sunday’s game.

Standout nose tackle Jeffery Simmons (ankle) is questionable. Also questionable are defensive lineman Kevin Strong (ankle) and linebacker Bud Dupree (illness).

Kansas City ruled out tight end Jody Fortson (quadriceps, illness).

Tennessee has won four straight regular-season matchups with the Chiefs, including a 27-3 home win last season. Counting the playoffs, Kansas City’s lone win in the past six meetings with the Titans came in the 2019 AFC Championship Game.

–Field Level Media

Oct 30, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) rushes for a touchdown against Houston Texans cornerback Desmond King II (25) in the second quarter at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Derrick Henry bullies Texans for 219 yards, Titans win fifth straight

Derrick Henry rushed 32 times for 219 yards and both Tennessee touchdowns Sunday as the visiting Titans stopped the punchless Houston Texans 17-10.

It was the fourth consecutive 200-yard performance for Henry against the Texans, dating to 2019, and the most rushing yards by any player this year. Tennessee (5-2) rushed for 314 yards as a team and threw just one pass in the second half.

Rookie quarterback Malik Willis, making his first NFL start in place of Ryan Tannehill (ankle, illness), completed 6 of 10 throws for 55 yards with an interception and had 12 rushing yards. Dontrell Hilliard added 83 yards on the ground for the Titans, who won their fifth straight game to remain in first place in the AFC South.

Houston (1-5-1) was completely impotent offensively most of the game, gaining just 161 total yards and earning only 10 first downs. Quarterback Davis Mills completed 17 of 29 passes for 152 yards while being intercepted once and sacked three times.

Mills managed a 3-yard touchdown pass to Dameon Pierce with 17 seconds left in the game, but Robert Woods recovered an onside kick to seal the outcome.

The Texans managed an early lead after Steven Nelson set them up at the Tennessee 11 with a 33-yard interception return. But Bud Dupree’s third-down sack forced them to settle for Ka’imi Fairbairn’s 43-yard field goal with 10:40 left in the first half.

Tennessee took the lead for good later in the second quarter after Woods’ 16-yard punt return put the Titans on Houston’s 37-yard line. Henry covered the distance in two plays, scoring on a 29-yard run with 4:20 remaining.

The Titans made it 14-3 with 6:31 left in the third quarter, driving 65 yards and overcoming three false start penalties as Henry and Hilliard took turns carving up Houston’s run defense. Henry walked in on fourth-and-goal from the 1 off right tackle.

Another ground-based drive added their final points. Tennessee chewed up 81 yards and more than seven minutes of clock before Randy Bullock converted a 29-yard field goal with 11:08 remaining in the game.

–Field Level Media

Titans head coach Mike Vrabel and running back Derrick Henry  (22)  run drills during practice at Saint Thomas Sports Park In Nashville on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020.

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Titans RB Derrick Henry participates in padded practice

Derrick Henry took another step toward playing in Saturday’s divisional playoffs by participating in contact drills Wednesday at Titans practice.

Henry said he appreciates being back after more than two months away from the field and plans to contribute when Tennessee hosts the Cincinnati Bengals in Nashville on Saturday afternoon.

Henry hasn’t played since Oct. 31, but his window to be activated to the 53-man roster opened Jan. 5, giving the Titans time to get him on the field and set benchmarks for his return.

“I feel good,” Henry said Wednesday, noting the steel plate in his foot makes for an interesting souvenir.

When and how much Henry can play against Cincinnati are week-long questions with multiple variables, according to head coach Mike Vrabel. He’ll take another measurement of Henry each day following up on the previous day’s practice and how Henry’s body reacts.

“We’ll see how this week goes,” Henry said.

Vrabel said Henry would move in the right direction if he came out of the contact-allowed drills unscathed. He remains a non-roster participant in a bid to return from a broken foot that required surgery.

“It all starts out here on the practice field and doing everything I can to be ready for Saturday,” Henry said. “Trying to work hard, contribute the best I can.”

The NFL’s leading rusher at the time of his injury, Henry missed eight games but still finished sixth among running backs in rushing yards (937) this season.

“It has been a while since he has had contact,” Vrabel said. “We will have a week of work, see how he feels, and make a decision.”

D’Onta Foreman filled in with Henry out and had 533 yards on 166 carries (4.3 yards per carry). Vrabel said Foreman would remain involved in the game plan regardless of Henry’s game-day status.

–Field Level Media

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) throws Buffalo Bills cornerback Josh Norman (29) aside as he rushes up the field during the second quarter at Nissan Stadium Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn.

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Titans won’t rush call on RB Derrick Henry’s return

Derrick Henry and the rested Tennessee Titans plan to take their time determining the bulldozing running back’s status for Saturday’s divisional playoff game against the visiting Cincinnati Bengals.

Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said this week’s practice would determine whether Henry is ready for his first game action since Oct. 31. He had surgery on his broken right foot.

“It’s going to be a big week of practice for us to continue to get Derrick back out there and get him acclimated to running the football and to seeing blocking schemes and seeing where guys are and to see where the cuts are,” Vrabel said.

Tennessee had a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs as the No. 1 seed.

Henry was injured Week 8 and had surgery the first week of November during which an intramedullary screw was inserted on the inside of the damaged metatarsal.

In eight games, Henry had 219 carries for 937 yards and 10 touchdowns. He finished in the top 10 in rushing despite not playing more than half of the season.

D’Onta Foreman would continue filling a bigger role if Henry cannot play.

The Bengals, who defeated the Las Vegas Raiders last week, are preparing for Henry to play, head coach Zac Taylor said. While Cincinnati was fifth in the NFL in rushing defense, the loss of defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi to a season-ending foot injury in the wild-card win is significant.

“We’re going to need to run the football,” Vrabel said.

–Field Level Media