Derrick Henry of the Titans talks conditioning, contract

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Derrick Henry is known for the crazy array of elements that comprise his incredible workout

He was in his regular place at the front of the line of Tennessee Titans running backs at the first of three scheduled mandatory minicamp practices Tuesday, and spoke to the press for the first time since the team blew the AFC’s No 1 seed and home-field advantage in the divisional round of the playoffs.

Derrick Henry

© George Walker IV / Tennessean.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

While he said the work has really been the same stuff, he has been working with the guy who did the surgery that repaired the Jones fracture in his right foot, inserting a metal plate and screws.

“I’m doing a lot of footwork, making sure that I am finding my toes, he always tells me that when I am working out, just so I am balancing my foot,” Henry said. “I feel good, I am running hills, doing restricted running, all those types of things to make sure I am ready.”

So what would he say the status of his foot is?

“How long has it been since I played,” he asked, grinning. “The foot is good.”

It was not a crazy question.

Certainly, he’s had plenty of time to recover and he’s done a ton of work to strengthen the foot.

Still, after a shaky performance the one time we’ve seen him since the surgery on Nov. 2, whether Henry returns to form after 1,021 carries in 44 games over the last three seasons – even with eight missed from the foot injury – is one of the biggest questions facing the Titans this season.

Will the Titans see the same guy again in 2022?

Gone is the big passing game threat in A.J. Brown who warranted a double team and the promise of Julio Jones also demanding attention that would back people off Henry.

He is the guy who will unquestionably draw the focus of defenses again until the Titans show something else that can cause problems.

Gone too is left guard Rodger Saffold, the offensive line’s best run blocker. Aside from filling that hole – the much smaller but technically sound and smart Aaron Brewer is likely – the Titans are also trying to find a starting right tackle.

So two-fifths of what was a very good run-blocking line is gone.

Last year showed that wear-and-tear can actually catch up to Henry, who frequently appears super-human as he throws would-be tacklers aside, shows off a remarkable combination of size and speed and posts those offseason workout videos.

The doubts are why I don’t think the Titans should do anything with his contract, which includes no further guaranteed money on the remaining two years and includes base salaries of $12 and $12.5 million. The Titans structured his deal perfectly when they agreed to a four-year, $50 million deal in 2020 just before a franchise tag would have locked in.

“It’s always good to get a promotion at your job,” he said of the potential extension. “A promotion is always good. I’m trying to work through that but I’m currently still under contract. If that’s what the future holds, then yeah, that’d be great.”

When this minicamp breaks, he will return to his workout schedule.

He said he goes six days a week with Sundays off, starting the first session at 10:30 a.m. after time with his young daughter. After lunch, he returns at 4:00 p.m. for a second round.

Kuharsky megaphone“I’ve got a little one to feed,” he said. “Just staying hungry, staying motivated, just never being complacent.

“I think it’s always been me. As a kid, if I’m sitting around, the house, I’m doing pushups, situps, go run with my cousin, he was in high school, because I wanted to work out. I just love working out. I love being fit. I love staying in shape. I love the game. I feel like If I’m sitting around, I’m not getting better, someone is outworking me. That’s always the mindset.”

Ryan Tannehill once put out an amusing video where he pretended to imitate a Henry workout video involving chains and resistance bands.

“Not a lot of guys walking around on planet Earth looking like Derrick,” Tannehill said. “The things he can do are next level in a lot of different areas. It’s always fun to see what he’s doing out there and obviously the people love it. He’s pushing the envelope and keeping things interesting.”

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