Tennessee Titans' Derrick Henry 'motivated' by playoff loss, doubters

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry missed the final nine games of the regular season with a foot injury. Mark Humphrey/AP

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Nothing was going to stop Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry from taking the field last Tuesday for the start of minicamp.

There are plenty of reasons for Henry to be motivated heading into the season, but the divisional playoff loss to the Cincinnati Bengals is a major source of that fuel for him and others on the team.

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill said the loss has given him a "desire to win like he never had before."

Henry said he felt the same way.

"It definitely fueled me in the offseason," said Henry, who led the NFL in rushing two seasons ago with 2,027 yards and rushed for 937 yards in eight games last season before a Jones fracture caused him to miss the final nine games of the regular season.

Henry looked like a motivated man as the temperatures hit 100 degrees at minicamp, and he still got in extra work with running backs coach Tony Dews while the rest of the team was taking part in special-teams period. Henry did some extra conditioning later in practice as well.

"Someone could motivate me and wouldn't even know it," Henry said. "The doubters, whatever they want to be, I am definitely motivated. I'm ready to go. So we gonna see."

Henry stayed in constant contact with the coaches but wasn't at voluntary OTAs because he chose to work out on his own. That allowed him to continue the routine he started before his 2,000-yard rushing season in 2020, which was usually two or three workouts per day.

The clips of Henry's unique workouts on social media have drawn a lot of attention.

"Derrick's obviously built differently," Tannehill said. "There's not a lot of guys walking around on planet Earth looking like Derrick. The things he can do are next level in a lot of areas. It's always fun to see what he's doing out there. He's pushing the envelope and keeping things interesting."

Henry moved pretty well through individual drills and showed no limitations as he went through the full practice.

Henry said he has been working on his strength and conditioning, along with drills to get him ready for the season. There has also been a focus on rehabbing the injured foot, which Henry says is good to go.

"I’ve been working with [physical therapist] Luke Miller, who worked under the guy that did my surgery,” Henry said. "Doing a lot of footwork. Finding my toes, he always tells me that when I’m working out. All types of different stuff, just so I’m balancing my foot. I feel good running hills, doing restricted running, being on the field and catching the ball."

NFL running backs are expected to drop off as they get closer to 30. At 28 years old, Henry has plenty of accomplishments under his belt. He's one of seven backs in NFL history to rush for 2,000 or more yards in a season. He was the Offensive Player of the Year in 2020, and he's a two-time NFL rushing champion.

None of that matters heading into the season.

"We start over," Dews said. "Every year is a new year. He understands that what he accomplished in the past is the past. It's not what you did last year, it's what are you going to do going forward."

A big season would mean more financial security next season for Henry, who has only $3 million in guaranteed money in 2023. The Titans have reportedly been open to an extension to provide some security. That would be music to Henry's ears.

"It's always good to get a promotion at your job," Henry said. "I'm trying to work through that. Currently under contract, but if that's what the future holds that would be great."