On Wednesday Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry won AFC Offensive Player of the Week for week 6, having rushed for 212 yards and two touchdowns in a 42-36 overtime win over the Houston Texans. Oh, and he also contributed 52 receiving yards for a total of 264 scrimmage yards.
So it’s no surprise that everyone involved with the Pittsburgh Steelers defense is obsessing about how to stop Henry (6-foot-3, 247 pounds) when the undefeated Steelers visit Nashville to play the 5-0 Titans on Sunday. Asked about how to prepare for Henry, defensive end Cam Heyward said the following:
How do you prepare for Derrick Henry?
Heyward: "put Bud at running back."
— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) October 21, 2020
That might have been an offhand quip, but one wonders if the Steelers actually are using outside linebacker Bud Dupree (6-foot-4, 269 pounds) on the scout team to get accustomed to someone with Henry’s size coming at them play after play.
Mike Tomlin on Derrick Henry
Asked whether defenders have been known to shy away from tackling Henry, Tomlin said, “There are people who are intimidated by him, and there are things to be intimidated by. This is like Bud Dupree running the football. This guy gets into your secondary and it’s like trying to tackle a guy like Bud, except he’s faster, obviously…. So you can see DBs having issues with that.”
To be sure, Pittsburgh doesn’t have a running back on its roster with Henry’s size. So perhaps Dupree is taking some snaps with the scout team, knowing how important Henry is to Tennessee’s success on offense.
“We better be prepared …the Tennessee Titans is a group that runs the ball and runs the ball with Henry and they run the ball repeatedly at you,” noted Tomlin on Tuesday.
“So not only do we have to stop the run initially, but this is a guy that averages about 25 carries a game so regardless of how the game is going you have to be able to answer that element of the challenge over the course of the game. He wears you down; he is capable and they are capable of winning by attrition. As you saw last week, he is also big-play capable. It’s really astounding that a back his size is capable of going to the house just about every time he touches it.”
Derrick Henry’s 94-Yard TD vs. the Houston Texans
In particular, Tomlin is concerned about Henry gaining yardage in big chunks, like the 94-yard touchdown run he broke off against the Texans.
Derrick Henry is a cheat code, doesn't make sense to be that big and *that* fast.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) October 18, 2020
“A lot is written and said about his size, his stiff arm, his power and those things, and all those things are true, but the damage that he does when he gets in open space—that he is able to couple those attributes with sprinter’s speed is just ridiculous,” said Tomlin. “We’ve got a full day’s work for us in Nashville just trying to minimize his impact on the game.”
Derrick Henry reached 21.62 MPH on his 94-yard rush TD to take the lead vs the Texans, the 4th-fastest speed reached by a ball carrier this season.
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) October 18, 2020
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