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Derrick Henry Busts Out, Thanks the Avocado Guy, Heads For A Burger

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Derrick Henry just turned 30 and his contract expires in March. He left Nissan Stadium facing more questions than he has in a long time. But he didn’t have to worry, as he typically does, about what to eat.

After a vintage 19-carry, 153-yard game with a touchdown in the Titans’ surprising 28-20 upset of the Jaguars Sunday, his strict in-season diet relaxes and a burger from Jack Brown’s was foremost on his mind.

Derrick Henry
Derrick Henry/ Angie Flatt

First, he held a 13-minute press conference that was easily the most expansive of his eight-year professional career, during which he bounced between wistfulness about staying and reality about the potential he might move on.

He got so granular in a 2-minute thank you section that sounded like goodbye that I’ll go home and talk to my 14-year-old son about recognizing the people around him far better than I do.

Henry pointed to “Bob, with the avocados, making sure that I have my avocados every morning” as well as the cleaning staff, Lyncoya (Majors), Johnny and Leroy, “cleaning our locker room when it smells like the Nashville Zoo.”

BryMakPair that sort of polite, aware sincerity with runs like the bullying 69-yarder that came at the start of the third quarter and you get the package Nashville has fallen in love with over the last eight years, but really since 2018 when he became the starter, headliner and face of the franchise.

He was teamed up again with Ryan Tannehill, who was back in the huddle with Will Levis reduced to third quarterback status by a foot injury.

As they waited in the tunnel to be the final two players introduced, they shared a moment.

“It was something like, ‘Let’s do this one time for the one time. Let’s finish this thing right. Love you, brother,’” Tannehill said. 

And the whole package was vintage late 2010s early 2020s Titans.

“It felt good, it kind of felt like 2018 again when it first all started,” Henry said, about hearing multiple chants of his name. “It was very cool to be able to experience that, knowing that they did the same thing for Eddie (George) who I idolize a lot.”

Derrick HenryIn games where both Henry and Tannehill started, the Titans were 33-20 (.623). The last one knocked the Jaguars out of an AFC South crown and the playoffs, the same thing the Jaguars did to the Titans last season.

We have to go back 25 games to find a run longer than the 69-yarder Henry found on the second play from scrimmage in the third quarter. On Oct. 18, 2021, he ripped off a 79-yard TD against Buffalo. 
 
On the first play after halftime, he managed only 2 yards. He said he had a look where he should have cut back and said if he got it again he would.

“It opened up and I was able to get downfield,” he said. “I should have scored. I am getting old. But I’m glad I was able to execute it.”

In a season where the offensive line has failed not just in pass protection but run blocking, Andre Dillard, Peter Skoronski, Aaron Brewer, Daniel Rupcich, and Dillon Radunz moved left and took men with them creating a lane for Henry, while tackle-eligible John Ojukwo and Kevin Rader held people up on the other side. 

The running back needed only to beat safety Anthony Cisco, which was not a problem.

Skoronski, the Titans first-round pick, said if that’s the conclusion of Henry’s time with the Titans, it’s been an honor to have been part of it.

“He’s always been an elite running back, and that’s just what he showed today,” he said. We couldn’t get him going in certain games, Iis who he is. ’m not sure that’s anything having to do with him. That’s the whole offense and I’m glad he was able to show that today."

Said Cisco of the Jaguars' run defense which allowed 175 yards and 6.7 a carry: "It's unacceptable. That’s not who we are. It hasn't been who we were all year."

No matter how close a team is, even a Super Bowl winner, dispersing is natural when the season ends.

But Henry made it sound like a lot of guys will gather again in short order after Monday’s locker cleanout.

“I think we’re going to do something together, o-line and everybody who else is on the team, take a trip and have fun with that,” Henry said. “Come back and relax a little bit, pack up and head to Dallas (where he trains in the offseason.) I’m not going to get caught up in it Kuharsky megaphonetoo much. Just enjoy a little bit of time off. Still going to work out. Still going to do my normal things. And then when that time comes, visit that when it needs to be.”

DeAndre Hopkins joined the Titans because it was his best opportunity. Part of the initial intrigue, however, was Henry, with whom he worked out some in Texas.

“I think Derrick was going to get that standing ovation no matter what. Derrick is one of my favorite players to watch. It’s been, to me, one of my dreams come try to play with a guy who’s going to be in the Hall of Fame and who plays like he plays, especially as a running back to be able to do what he’s doing. 

“Eight or nine years? It’s incredible. I don’t think he’s going to stop anytime soon.”

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