NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Titans running back Derrick Henry makes it very clear he is not happy with himself and his “rough” start this season.
The 2015 Heisman Trophy winner has started all four games for Tennessee (3-1), and he’s even run the wildcat at times as the Titans have worked through injuries, including at quarterback. Even though he leads the team in rushing with a 163 yards, he’s averaging just 3 yards a carry. He’s had 11 more carries than Dion Lewis, who has 143 yards rushing averaging 3.3-yards a pop.
So Henry is working on everything and anything he can think of to improve, from being quicker with his feet to hitting the hole and going up-field faster to pass protection.
“Man, I’ve got to be better, and everybody knows that. The whole world knows it,” Henry said Thursday. “So that’s what I’m going to continue to do, just help this team.”
The Titans currently rank 14th in the NFL averaging 109 yards, and Henry currently has the sixth-fastest play by a ball carrier this season. He hit 21.46 mph on what would have been a 62-yard touchdown except for a holding penalty on tight end Delanie Walker that trimmed his run down to 2 yards.
Henry has been a significant contributor to the ground game, running the wildcat in a win over Houston and again in Jacksonville where the Titans piled up 150 yards rushing. Last week, the Titans faced an Eagles’ defense that was only giving up a league-leading 61.7 yards rushing. Tennessee ran for 70 yards — 46 by quarterback Marcus Mariota — in the 26-23 overtime win.
Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur said they knew going into the game with Philadelphia that running would be a challenge because of how good the Eagles’ defense is against the run. LaFleur noted Henry had limited opportunities with eight carries for 24 yards and two catches for 7 yards more.
“We knew that was going to be a tough team to run the ball against,” LaFleur said. “For what we asked him to do, I thought he did a great job. I think every game is going to have its own challenges, and we’re going to have to rely on him more times in some other games.”
Such talk isn’t comforting to Henry, who said at the start of training camp that he wanted to dominant in whatever the Titans asked him to do. Henry had a long run of 14 yards against the Eagles. He also had three negative runs, including one in overtime when he was dropped for a loss of 4 yards. He also couldn’t grab the ball on a toss from Mariota in the third quarter on a 12-yard loss.
“I feel like if I didn’t have that durn fumble exchange on that toss we might’ve got it done,” Henry said. “That’s all on me.”
The Titans just got their offensive line back together for the first time last week with right tackle Jack Conklin making his season debut after tearing his left ACL last January. Running won’t be much easier Sunday in Buffalo (1-3) with the Bills giving up just 95.3 yards per game, 11th in the NFL.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel says expecting more out of himself is a great attitude for Henry to have.
“It’s a long season,” Vrabel said. “Things are going to balance out.”
Notes: Titans OT Dennis Kelly (illness) was limited at his first practice since Sept. 12. LB Wesley Woodyard (shoulder) missed a second straight practice. WR Corey Davis (illness) practiced fully after being limited Wednesday.
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