The Ravens are well-acquainted with Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry. His stiff-arm of safety Earl Thomas III was the indelible image of last season’s stunning 28-12 divisional-round upset.
He broke hearts in Baltimore again this season. In Week 11, his 29-yard touchdown run in overtime sealed a comeback victory for the Titans, who trailed 21-10 in the second half. The loss dropped the Ravens to 6-4, forcing them to win five of their last six games to get into the playoffs.
Now, Henry is on a collision course with the Ravens again, this time in Nashville for a wild-card playoff game.
Here’s what you need to know about the Titans’ star:
He was a high school legend
Henry was an immediate start at Yulee High School outside Jacksonville, Florida, rushing for 2,465 yards and 26 touchdowns as a freshman. He only got better.
Bigger and stronger than most of his peers, he set the national high school rushing record with 12,124 career yards, including 4,260 yards and 55 touchdowns during his senior season in 2012. He rushed for 510 yards and six touchdowns in one game alone that season, and had three other 400-yard rushing games.
According to The Washington Post, Henry was benching 365 pounds, clean-jerking 315 pounds, squatting 500 pounds and deadlifting 550 pounds as a senior to go with 4.5-second speed in the 40-yard dash.
“A lot of players worried about how to approach him or what kind of technique to use to get him down. It takes more than one player to tackle him,” a former high school opponent told The Post last year. “Derrick Henry was talked about a lot.”
His highlight tape is not for the faint of heart.
He was college teammates with a current Raven
A five-star prospect and the 12th-ranked player in the Class of 2013, Henry signed with Alabama over Georgia, Clemson, Florida and several other national powers. As a freshman, he played sparingly, rushing 32 times for 382 yards and three touchdowns behind future NFL players T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake.
In 2014, five-star cornerback Marlon Humphrey joined the Crimson Tide, ranked as the nation’s top player at his position and 11th overall. While Humphrey redshirted, Henry split time with Yeldon and rushed for 990 yards and five touchdowns.
His breakout season soon followed. As a junior, Henry exploded for a school- and Southeastern Conference-record 2,219 rushing yards, the fifth most in a single season by a Football Bowl Subdivision player. His 28 rushing touchdowns broke the SEC record. He was named the school’s second Heisman Trophy winner, following current Ravens running back Mark Ingram’s triumph in 2009. Alabama went 14-1, winning the inaugural College Football Playoff national championship with a 45-40 win over Clemson.
It was a banner year for Humphrey, too. Starting opposite former Gilman star and Ravens defensive back Cyrus Jones, he recorded three interceptions, two forced fumbles and eight pass breakups and was named one of the top freshmen in the SEC. Henry was picked 45th overall by the Titans in the 2016 draft, while Humphrey was taken by the Ravens with the 16th overall selection a year later.
Before the teams met in the postseason last year, Humphrey, coming off his first Pro Bowl and All-Pro selection, joked that he needed “to get an extra lift in” before trying to tackle the league’s rushing champion. His words proved prophetic.
“Big challenge,” Humphrey said. “Derrick, seeing him against the Patriots, he looked like when he was back at Bama and he won the Heisman. It’s going to take all 11 [defenders]. He led the league in yards, and, shoot, he’s been doing his thing. I’m happy for what he’s done, I just hope we can get him to the ground this Saturday. …
“I’m going to get an extra lift in this week and see how that works for me. I really think it’s going to take all 11. He’s 6-3 and he has really elite speed also. He can run people over here and there all the time, but he also has the speed that if he gets to the edge, he can really outrun you.”
He’s already one of the most prolific rushers in NFL history
Here are just some of the eye-popping stats Henry has produced since entering the league:
- Since the start of the 2019 season, Henry leads the league in rushing yards with 3,566. His 2,758 yards after contact also lead all running backs during that span. The Vikings’ Dalvin Cook is second with 2,692. Henry’s 1,487 yards after contact this season are the most since 2006.
- Henry became the eighth player to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a single season, joining Eric Dickerson, Adrian Peterson, Jamal Lewis, Barry Sanders, Terrell Davis, Chris Johnson and O.J. Simpson. His 2,027 yards are the fifth most ever, and more than 23 NFL teams finished with this season.
- Henry is believed to be the only player to rush for 2,000 yards in a season at all three levels of football: high school, college and the NFL. Henry ran for more than 2,000 yards every season at Yulee High School and had 2,219 yards as a junior at Alabama in 2015.
- Over Henry’s past 20 games (including playoffs), he has rushed for 2,684 yards. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that’s the most rushing yards by any player in a 20-game span (including playoffs) in NFL history.
- Henry joined Terrell Davis as the only NFL players to record seasons with 2,000 rushing yards and at least 15 touchdowns.
- Henry has five career games with at least 200 rushing yards and two touchdowns, the most in NFL history. Jim Brown, Barry Sanders and Ladainian Tomlinson are tied for second with three such games in their careers. Henry accomplished the feat three times this season alone.
- Henry is the first player in 15 years to have 28 games in a row with over 50 rushing yards.
- Henry has 16 carries of 20 or more yards this season, most in the league. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is third with 10.
- Henry finished tied for second with Dalvin Cook for most touchdowns in the red zone this season with 13. Saints running back Alvin Kamara led the way with 15.
- According to the NFL’s Next Gen stats, Henry gained 421 yards over expected this season, second in the league behind Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (487).
- With a career-high 250 yards in the regular-season finale against the Texans, Henry became the first player in NFL history with 200 rushing yards in three straight games against a single opponent.
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