Titans plan to feed Derrick Henry a lot to start season

The Tennessee Titans offense was at its best down the stretch last season when it fed Derrick Henry like he was a starving giant panda.

Henry galloped for 585 yards on 87 carries in the Titans final four tilts (three wins) to cruise over the 1,000-yard-rushing mark for the first time in his career (1,059).

Coach Mike Vrabel wants to see more of the workhorse to open the 2019 campaign.

"I think that is where the whole plan would like to start," Vrabel said this week, via the team's official website. "If Derrick can do what he did at the end of the year at the start this year, he's certainly going to get a lot more opportunities.

"We're going to have to be able to use Dion (Lewis) and whoever else we have on the roster to complement (Derrick) in different aspects. There's things that we can do to continue to let Derrick improve and getting the ball to him. He caught it well when we threw it to him, when he had opportunities to catch it on the move and gain some yards. So we know what his skill sets are and we just have to try to combine his efforts with what we are trying to do to get him the ball."

The Titans telegraphed this plan after promoting tight ends coach Arthur Smith to the offensive coordinator gig when Matt LaFleur left for the Green Bay head coaching job.

At 6-foot-3, 247 pounds, Henry is the type of grinding bear that leans on defenses and wears them out. Sometimes better when he can gain the edge, Henry is a freighter when he gets a head of steam going and can roll over smaller secondary defenders like a thimble on a train track.

Through his first three seasons, the Heisman Trophy winner found himself marred in committees mostly based off the theory he's not great in the passing game (a key reason Lewis was signed). Vrabel specifically mentioning using Henry in the air attack is the best sign the Titans could hand him the bulk of the snaps early in 2019.

"He proved that he can step in there and carry the load, and we'll try to put that right back on him," Titans general manager Jon Robinson said of Henry. "We'll certainly be mindful of the carries that he's getting and the touches that he's getting. But all those running backs and receivers, skill players, the more they can get the ball the more they like it."

But not all those skill players have the freakish skill set Henry possesses who can grind grown defenders into a pulp when offered enough opportunities.

With the Titans still fending off injury concerns to Marcus Mariota, leaning on Henry makes sense to start 2019.

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