Titans not planning to change identity after Derrick Henry injury

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

With Derrick Henry sidelined for the next six to 10 weeks after undergoing foot surgery on Tuesday, the Tennessee Titans are left with fitting the pieces of the puzzle on the fly.

Henry was on pace to break the all-time single-season rushing record and had accounted for 37 percent of the team’s offensive production through the first eight weeks.

Looking ahead to Sunday, the Titans will face an offense unlike any other they have seen this season in the Los Angeles Rams. Sean McVay’s group has just one blemish on their record heading into Week 9, and they feature the fourth-best passing attack in the league.

The Titans’ offense runs through Henry, but without him, offensive coordinator Todd Downing indicated that the team plans to stick to their identity moving forward.

“I think you can place an emphasis on certain areas, but I’d be doing this team a disservice if I jerked the wheel just because of an injury, as great as Derrick [Henry] is,” Downing said on Thursday. “We are who we are, and we’re going to find ways to continue to maintain that identity. Of course, there are going to be some tweaks and quarter turns along the way and a different emphasis, but we are who we are.”

The Titans acted swiftly, signing 36-year-old Adrian Peterson to the practice squad on Monday. He will be elevated to the active roster before Sunday’s game, and the All-Pro running back could be in line for a heavy workload.

Of course, some of the pressure can be removed from the running game if the Titans can be effective through the air.

Wide receiver AJ Brown and quarterback Ryan Tannehill have re-strengthened their chemistry over the last three games, but the team is still looking for consistency among the receiver group.

Julio Jones was acquired during the offseason, but the 32-year-old has been in and out of the lineup with a hamstring injury. He missed last week’s game against the Indianapolis Colts, but he’s been a limited participant through the first two days of practice this week, putting him on track to play on Sunday.

With both Jones and Brown on the field, the Titans’ offense is not one to be taken lightly, even without the NFL’s leading rusher.

“I think any week, regardless of whether Derrick was in or not, we want as many of our top players out there as we can have,” Downing said on whether having Jones play was a must on Sunday. “Certainly, being able to have as many weapons out there after losing a guy like Derrick would be a beneficial thing, but it doesn’t mean that it’s going to turn into some different-looking offense.”

At the end of the day, the Titans’ offense will undoubtedly look different without No. 22 in the backfield. At times, Henry has been carrying the team on his back, and no one should expect his production to be replaced.

That said, Tennessee has plenty of capable backs eager to prove themselves over these next few weeks. Jeremy McNichols has primarily been limited to third downs during his time with the Titans, but he had over 300 carries in his final season at Boise State.

Peterson is in the twilight of his career, but he averaged nearly four yards per carry with the Detroit Lions last season. The Titans also brought back D’Onta Foreman, who was with the organization for the 2020 season, rushing for 95 yards on 22 attempts.

“Luckily, with the guys that we added, Foreman got some experience in this system and Adrian [Peterson] is the consummate professional, so having him approach this week the way he has is encouraging for everybody,” Downing concluded.

Tennessee has preached the “next man up” mentality all year long, which has been important given how many injuries the team has sustained. Without their MVP, the Titans will need all hands on deck to help navigate these unchartered waters.

Related

Former NFL stars think Titans will be OK without Derrick Henry

Titans' Kevin Byard named AFC Defensive Player of the Month

Titans' Jeremy McNichols ready for 'whatever it's going to take to win'

List

Titans film study: Help us, Arthur Juan Kenobi, you're our only hope