Derrick Henry has a chance to rush for 2,000 yards this season. The way the Detroit Lions allow rushing yards, he should get much closer to that milestone on Sunday.
Henry has racked up 1,532 rushing yards with three games to go. He’ll be facing the league’s fourth-worst rushing defense when the Tennessee Titans host the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
The Lions are allowing an average of 132.8 rushing yards per game. Henry is seeking to become the eighth player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season.
“I just think you have to look at the situation and see what is going on, understand how excited the players are for Derrick, and the offensive line,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. “I think they feel as much a part of what he does, like it’s them doing it. And I think that’s great for our psyche, and our confidence, and everything that we’re doing.”
The Titans (9-4) have more important team goals to consider. They’re tied for first place with Indianapolis in the AFC South. With nine teams above .500 in the AFC, Tennessee isn’t even assured a playoff berth unless it takes care of business.
The Titans’ matchup against the Lions (5-8) will be their final home game this season. They finish up at Green Bay and Houston.
Henry provides a nice safety net. He rushed for a season-high 215 yards against Jacksonville last Sunday and has exceeded 100 yards in four of the last five games. He’s scored six touchdowns over the last four games.
The 2,000-yard goal is superseded by team concerns, as well as not wearing Henry down prior to the postseason.
“I think it’s a fine line,” Vrabel said. “It’s a good situation to be in, but it’s not the easiest one … Those are things that I have to weigh, and there will be second-guessing no matter what we do, or what decisions we make.”
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been solid throughout the season, throwing 28 touchdown passes compared to five interceptions.
Detroit’s quarterback situation entering the game is murky. Matthew Stafford suffered a rib injury in the fourth quarter of a 31-24 home loss to Green Bay last Sunday. Though Stafford didn’t practice on Wednesday, interim coach Darrell Bevell would consider playing his top quarterback even if he doesn’t practice this week.
“Obviously he’s going to have to make sure that he can handle whatever the level of pain that he’s in,” Bevell said. “That’s going to be a big factor, and then can he function with that pain level, are really going to be the two things. We have great lines of communication. He’s not going to do something that he’s not able to do.”
Stafford’s toughness is unquestioned but the Titans will have to prepare for either Stafford or his backup, Chase Daniel.
“I have a lot of respect for Matt for what he has done,” Vrabel said. “So, I would imagine that he would be out there until he’s not and then we’ll have to see what Chase has and where he is most comfortable within their offense.”
Detroit’s top receiver, Kenny Golladay, missed Wednesday’s practice with a hip injury. He hasn’t played since Nov. 1. Safety Kenny Vaccaro (illness) and offensive linemen Dennis Kelly (knee) and Rodger Saffold (toe) were among the Titans who missed Wednesday’s practice.