Titans star running back Derrick Henry has not competed since Week 8 due to a foot injury suffered during that week’s game against the Colts.
At the time, Henry led the NFL with 937 rushing yards and was considered a favorite for the NFL MVP. He was on track to break four NFL records: all-time carries in one season, rushing yards in one season, touches in one season and yards from scrimmage. And, even though he hasn’t played a game since Oct. 31, Henry still ranks sixth in the league in rushing yards.
There was hope all season that Henry could make a heroic return to the playoffs, if the Titans went that far. Well, after taking over the AFC South, Tennessee has the No. 1 seed in the AFC heading into Week 18. Everything the team must do to keep the No. 1 seed, winning the only goodbye in the playoffs of the AFC in the process, would be beating the Texans 4-12 on Sunday. The Titans decided to remove Henry from injured reserve before their Week 18 matchup against the Texans.
But will Henry return in his Sunday afternoon game against the Texans? Here’s what you need to know about Henry’s return schedule:
Is Derrick Henry playing today?
Henry will not play against the Texans, because the Titans did not activate him for the game, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Henry participated in practices for the Titans on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Therefore, Henry can join the active list within 21 days.
Can Derrick Henry play in the playoffs?
If Henry is activated by the Titans within 21 days of being removed from injured reserve, he will be able to compete in the playoffs. If the Titans beat the Texans on Sunday, they will capture the No. 1 seed in the AFC, giving them a wild-card-free round. This would give Henry an extra week to prepare for the playoffs: Tennessee would play for the first time on January 22 or 23.
If the Titans can’t capture the No. 1 seed, it’s unclear when Henry will be activated, though he is believed to return for the playoffs no matter when the Titans’ first game is. Coach Mike Vrabel discussed Henry’s timeline with the media on Friday:
“We have some time to make that decision and we will assess where we are,” said Vrabel (via ESPN). “But I think he looked good. We continue to track his speed, his mileage and volume and see how he responds. I feel good about where he is.”
Although Henry had no trouble practicing this week, the Titans will most likely want to continue to give him rest so that he is ready to play in the playoffs.