Agent’s Take: Derrick Henry’s historic workload and what it means moving forward

The Titans seem intent on getting their money’s worth from running back Derrick Henry, who signed a four-year, $50 million contract (with an additional $1 million in incentives) last year. The volume has been turned up on Henry’s already heavy workload. In 2020, Henry became the NFL‘s eighth player to rush for at least 2,000 yards in a season, rumbling for 2,027 on 378 carries — tied for 19th-most for a season.

The 2020 NFL Offensive Player of the Year easily leads the league with 142 carries and 640 rushing yards through five games this season. Saints running back Alvin Kamara, who is second in the NFL, has 48 fewer carries. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt form arguably the league’s best rushing tandem with the Browns. They have just three more carries combined at 145 than Henry does this season.

Only O.J Simpson has more rushing attempts through the first five games of a season. Simpson had 152 carries with the Bills in 1975. Nobody has ever had more touches (combined rushing attempts and receptions) than Henry’s 156 in the first five games.

Thanks to the addition of a 17th regular-season game, Henry is on track to obliterate the NFL single-season record for rushing attempts that Larry Johnson set with the Chiefs in 2006 when he had 416 carries. Henry’s current pace projects to an eye-popping 483 rushing attempts. At 28.4 carries each contest, Johnson’s record would fall in the 15th game of the season.

In the process, Henry would break Eric Dickerson’s record of 2,105 rushing yards in a season, which he set in 1984 with the Rams and Chris Johnson’s season mark of 2,509 yards from scrimmage (combined rushing and receiving yards) established in 2009 while playing for the Titans. Henry is on pace for 2,176 rushing yards and 2,601 yards from scrimmage. His 530 touches would also be 42 more than James Wilder’s record of 492, which came with the Buccaneers in 1984.

Henry sustaining his massive workload seems unfathomable considering his 2020 usage, the extra game and the NFL increasingly becoming pass happy over the last 10 years. Titans head coach Mike Vrabel addressed Henry’s extreme usage on Monday. “We just have to try to be as smart as we can with recovery and how it is going in the game and how he feels,” said Vrabel. “Then there’s a fine line there in knowing what he needs and the impact he has throughout the course of the game.”

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Ideally, Henry’s usage rate will mirror what happened with Simpson in 1975. He went from 30.4 carries per game over the first five contests to averaging 19.7 for the remaining nine games in the season.

That wasn’t the case for the two-time defending rushing champion in 2019 and 2020.

Henry’s workload peaked during the last quarter of the…

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Read More: Agent’s Take: Derrick Henry’s historic workload and what it means moving forward 2021-10-14 05:49:00

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