Derrick Henry is on his way back to the field.
The Tennessee Titans running back officially was designated to return from injured reserve on Wednesday, clearing his path to return to practice and opening his 21-day window to return from IR to the active roster. NFL Network’s Cameron Wolfe previously reported that Henry was expected to practice today.
“Just see how he responds,” Vrabel told reporters Wednesday. “No different than anyone coming off injured reserve.”
Getting Henry back at practice doesn’t mean the bulldozing back will participate in Sunday’s Week 18 bout against the Houston Texans, as Tennessee seeks to clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC, but it gives him a chance — albeit a seeming long shot.
Henry did light work last week as he geared up to return from the Jones fracture in his foot that required surgery and caused him to miss the past eight games. Getting him back at practice on Wednesday is the next step in the process.
More important than whether Henry dips his toe in the water on Sunday, opening the window for his return allows the Titans to gear up the running back for the postseason. If the Titans win this weekend, they’ll lock up the only postseason bye in the AFC, giving Henry an extra week of practice and rehab before returning in the Divisional Round.
In eight games this season, Henry netted 937 yards on 219 carries with 10 touchdowns. Despite not playing since Halloween, Henry still ranks sixth in the NFL in rushing yards.
The Titans offense, while getting on track in recent weeks, hasn’t been the same sans the punishing running back.
Tennessee scored 30-plus points in four of the eight games that Henry played this season and scored 30 or more in just one of eight games without the RB (34 points in Week 17 vs. MIA). The Titans netted just one game with 20-or-fewer points with Henry (Week 1) but have had five games with 20-or-fewer points without Henry (Weeks 11, 12, 14, 15 and 16).
While A.J. Brown getting healthy has been key to the Titans’ sprint to the No. 1 seed, Henry’s return for the postseason would give Tennessee the engine the offense has been missing.
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